Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eliot Got It Wrong: Ruminations on February

T.S. Eliot's opening line of "The Wasteland" drifts into my mind more often than I'd like to admit (maybe I have a penchant for gloominess):

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

I've always thought maybe he got it wrong--I mean, obviously April works on a series of levels in the poem, but April's always felt like a light at the end of a tunnel.  I'm longing for April!

February is the cruelest month, despite the fact that it's short.  It's inconsistent, it's dreary, it's slushy, it's dirty (the snow has lost it's appeal, no longer a welcome novelty or pristine, but marred with sand, gravel, salt...). It feels like a month we must toil through, especially in the classroom.  Kids feel the assault of this cruelest of months too.  February is just hard.

Part of it for me is that this is always about the time of year that all my ambitions for second semester seem to flounder a bit-- I'm behind on grades (the piles are surrounding me at this very moment!), I've relented a bit on consistency in the classroom and kids aren't behaving (or engaging) at the level I'd like.  And somehow, February always manages to derail my reading.  I can't figure out where my time is going.  I haven't made anything. I haven't really read anything.  Time is tricky that way.

It's about this time every year, too, that I'm suddenly consumed by the fact that my house just has so much damn stuff in it.  This stems from the fact that I can't do anything about it right now; isn't that just the perfect time to decide to care? February is not peak garage sale time, after all.  I'm going a bit stir-crazy from being cooped up in the house (and shoveling doesn't offer much reprieve)...

All of these things combine, I think, to create a sense of uneasiness and maybe even irritability, but we just have to bide the time until spring.

To keep myself from slipping into full-on negativity, I'm working on gratitude. Here's a list:

I'm grateful for...

1. two sweet, beautiful boys who make me laugh everyday and who awe me with their open, loving, and creative view of the world.  Their imaginations are endless.

2. Jasper, who is always there to snuggle and look up at me with his big, kind eyes.

3. the support of my family.

4. my crockpot--it's a lifesaver.

5.  a career that makes me want to always strive to be better, to always be learning.

6.  the opportunity to write letters of recommendation for students heading off to college--it allows me to truly focus on the good and to celebrate what they have achieved.

7.  Matt, who is always so kind and patient and constant; he is my anchor and my True North.

8.  the comfort of wonderful friends who understand, who are passionate, and who always provide the opportunity to laugh--especially Joanna, Keresten, and The Fredregills (The Spanish Teacher and The Cable Guy).

9.  conversation hearts. Seriously, I LOVE conversation hearts.

10.  a quiet house on a Sunday morning, a cup of coffee in my favorite mug, and the Sunday New York Times.

I know that this too shall pass.  I'm working to take time each day to be grateful and to focus on all the positive aspects of life, even against this dreary backdrop.  There is much to celebrate, even in the cruelest month... I need to remind myself of that.  But you better believe that as soon as it is even remotely possible, I will be purging so much stuff from my house! :)

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