Sitting at urgent care one December night when my wife had a health scare, I was stuck in the waiting area for three hours with only one issue of a Portland Monthly Magazine. I read it cover to cover and read it some more until I had read every word of the issue. A short blurb jumped out at me. I remember the article was about February and what a tough month it can be. I considered the thoughts of Rich Reece who had been interviewed for the piece.
He pointed out that February was not a good time to make any life changes. People get in bad moods and funks. They get the winter blahs. It had been his experience that people make bad, snap decisions this time of year.
At that point I braced myself for February. Years ago I had dropped out of college in mid winter so it was something I dwelled on. I wasn’t expecting bad things to happen but the article served as a reminder of what could happen if you don’t respect February. Reece pointed out that he wouldn’t make any serious decisions in this time of year like breaking up with someone or quitting a job without lining up another one. With that taken into account, I slogged my way through the month. Anytime I got down or felt lousy I reminded myself what month it was. I wasn’t going to quit my job, get mad at anyone or raise a ruckus at anytime. I didn’t do myself any favors by drinking too much coffee and not eating enough fruits and vegetables but I didn’t want to do much of anything else, just look for the light at the end of the tunnel which seemed to be the next month.
The odd thing was that I had told my friend Jeff Dodge about the article soon after I read it. He told me Rich Reece was someone I had just met. He had been a part of a short film I had worked on with Jeff set in the early 80’s, about a band on tour that had to do an interview with an obnoxious and abrasive AM radio DJ in Lincoln Nebraska. I could have bent his ear up and down about February, if only I had known.
Now February doesn’t seem so bad. We’ve had sunny days, not warm enough for my tastes, but sunshine nonetheless. I was reminded that last February we had ice and snow, but that doesn’t seem to happen often. And while the east coast had their blizzards, this winter has seen about three snowflakes.
I remember first moving to Portland in February seven years ago, feeling warm temperatures and fresh air despite it being damp. We had seasonal weather that year, like we always do in February. We headed to the park to throw a frisbee. We didn’t have jobs. But February has its share of gloomy, gray days. It’s as good an explanation as any for why Valentine’s Day is right smack in the middle of the month. You need flowers to look at and chocolate to make it to March. And why not make it shorter by three days most years. Let’s finish this miserable month as soon as possible.
I have yet to touch base with Rich Reece again. He might find it strange to see himself mentioned in a blog post. I found out he lives in my neighborhood so if I get the chance I’ll tell him that I think he saved my life or at the very least had me thinking up some better strategies to survive February.
Here’s a link to the article:
Scroll down to the headline that says: Get Your Head Right