Hooray for March 1st!
February has never been my favorite month; whether as a student, a teacher or living in China, I’ve always been grateful it falls in the “knuckle valley” when I count out “January, February, March” to see how many days April has.
When I was in school, 3rd quarter was always the biggest struggle and the report card that I dreaded bringing home. Take middle school for example. First quarter is the start to a new school year. I would show up bright and eager, with a new school bag (not the Esprit bag that I dreamed of, but a ShopKo navy blue duffle that squeaked constantly as I met up with my best friend, Lesley and walked from Jefferson Junior High were my dad worked to Wilson Middle School where we were 7th graders, navigating the perils of first boyfriends-Isaac asked me out with a roll of Smarties folded up in the requisite “yes, no, maybe” note. I stealthily crunched through the candy gift in math class before marking “yes” and sending it back through my friend, through his friend to him-, multiple class periods and the necessary Tetris of sharing a locker, and the devastation of a girl in the locker room telling me my mascara -first tube ever!- made me look like a raccoon. Oh the drama.) and ready to tackle all the projects and tests thrown my way. Second quarter is all about the holidays- Thanksgiving and Christmas doing a great job to break up the weeks of world history and study of photosynthesis, and of course fourth quarter was all about the end of the year and summer the approaching summer break. But that dreaded third quarter. Ugh. The festivities are behind us (although I survive January with a mid-month birthday) and spring break is eons away. 7th grade- that was the year that during the third quarter midterms, I brought home a report card with a B- in science and a C is math. (Look, I was never destined for the STEM world.) This did not go over well at home. Needless to say, I was grounded until the end of the quarter, having to do math homework each night, even if there wasn’t assigned pages to do. (That’s the downfall to having a father who taught high school math for many years. No homework? No problem! He would take my book, look at the chapter we were working on and make a page of problems for me to solve.) February, you were no good to me as a middle schooler.
Jump ahead a decade to when I was on the other side of the desk. February was no better standing with my back to the white board rather than facing it. It is hard to motivate 8th graders to begin with, but add in days stuck inside because the temperature is in the single digits, the trepidation of the upcoming statewide exams and the endless weeks of sameness and it is long for everyone.
One might think that life abroad is always an adventure, and much of the time there are hilarious stories to be told, but day-to-day is actually not that different from life in the States. I get up, go to work Monday through Friday (and sometime Saturday), come home after work, make dinner, stream some Netflix if my internet is fast enough and then read and go to bed. Chengdu life just plods along in February. The skies are constantly gray, pollution hits its highest levels of the year and we go weeks without the sun making an appearance. It is a long month.
But, it is all behind us now! March has arrived (not so much like a growling lion as a hulking gray elephant) and I’m ready to get back to real life. Back to going out with friends after work, back to the gym in my free time and back to wanting to participate in the world outside the walls of my apartment. Even without sunshine yet, I just feel lighter and happier, knowing that the eternal weeks of February are gone for another year. (Maybe next year it won’t even feel like February since Kuala Lumpur is a humid 90 degrees most of the month.)
Beware, the Ides is only a fortnight away, but I’ll take my chances with traitorous best friends rather than suffer through another miserable day of February.