This really is the most February February I have had in a long while.
A kind of superstitious build-up has started to take over my winters. The sense of foreboding–that the groundhog is always wrong and winter will never really end–gets stronger every year.
My grandmother died on a leap year and we joked at the time that she did that intentionally to give us fewer anniversaries to linger on. Was that ’96? Yes, that’s right. Next February 29, will be the sixth anniversary of her not being alive for all these years.
Grammy had an eerie way of remembering dates. I was awed and bothered when she would say things like, “Today’s the day my aunt got married, and nobody thought it would last.” Every date seemed to have some significance in her chronicle. I’m sure she died on leap year on purpose, actually. I believe it with the earnest stubbornness she passed along to me.
God damned ancestry.com has gone and pulled me back in. I keep thinking I’m going to quit, and I have scaled back, but that’s all. Who has time to dig through Irish birth registries? No, I do not need the international membership any more; yes, I’m sure. Besides, all the Irish stuff just was just a way station between Syria and Idaho. Genealogy doesn’t mean anything once you get your DNA test. And now, the DNA tests don’t mean anything because they are apparently quite faulty and misleading. We’re all cousins who occasionally murder our cousins. What jerks. It doesn’t matter who our jerk ancestors were.
Although essentially pointless, ancestry.com is good for catching records. Just now, checking on Grammy’s death date, I got a suggestion of a yearbook entry for her. 1938, there she is, front and center in the cast of Mademoiselle Modiste. According to sentimental sources, playing the part of Fifi in that operetta led her to catch the eye of my grandfather.
The operetta was performed at the end of their season and my grandparents eloped in November 1938. She had to feel relieved to escape the campus life, it would have been very strange for a western gal. Maybe she belonged to the rifle club too? Who has time to pour over 1938 yearbooks, anyway? There are far too many clubs and societies in there. Do the debutantes haunt the university? Do they flaunt while they haunt?
Ghost stories make me angry because I believe them in the wintertime. I forget and watch a horror movie every winter, and then I must have at least one night where I lie awake, afraid of my own bathroom.
Religion makes me angry now too, because I feel a heavy cloak of guilt as Lent pops up and waves. I forget that I am barely indoctrinated and sleepwalk into deprivation, simply because it’s February.
This year, for reasons that aren’t important to the chronicle, I have decided to keep February extremely simple. I am only working, and everything else is optional. Motherhood isn’t optional, but I can scale it back, just for now. Coffee is a priority, productivity is key and no, I am not shoveling the driveway. Slipping up and going to a brunch with some kids is permissible, but there won’t be any new projects. I will not Kondo anything else until March. Salvation Army can fuck right off.
Maybe it’s natural to have periods like Lent, even if you don’t call it that. We can take a pause, a moment to dig in and reflect on why we are digging this trench in the first place. Are we digging in the right direction? Why is that guy yelling at us? Do I need four pairs of hiking boots when I only have two feet? Are they necessary to my human experience? Can I be better at being the way I am? Did that guy up there know anything about Hitler or was he thinking of Charlie Chaplin’s mustache? How much more February can a February get?
Flaunting some further reading:
Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is out now. A free preview is available and all electronic formats are priced at a very reasonable US
$3.99!!(Still $1.99 this week!!)