January was long in the sense that it was hard to believe so much happened in just 31 days. February is looking like being long the other way, dragging on through cold, snowy days that all seem fairly similar. There’s plenty of work to do, of course. I could make this a month of Grading All The Things, or Writing All The Assignments, or Finishing All The Revisions. I certainly need to Assemble All The Tax Documents.
Considering all those options to pass a snowy day at home (at least I didn’t have to drive to campus) makes me want to go get in a hot bath with a glass of sherry. Wasn’t there a time and place when sherry and biscuits were acceptable elevenses? Or is this academic fantasy?
I am reminded of Diana Wynne Jones discovering that her son thought Kipling’s Kim was “a fantasy set in an alternative world and that Kipling had made all the India stuff up.”(1) I am a veteran reader of academic (and other) novels and memoirs set in 1930s-1970s Britain, where I no doubt got this notion of sherry at 11:00 a.m. being completely normal behavior. And yet I am so much a part of puritanical contemporary American society, the part that fears addiction and values productivity (or it is an internalized part of me), that on a day on which classes are cancelled due to heavy snow, a day on which I could do anything I wanted (sleep late, bake cookies, enact fantasies of 1950s male academic life), I have trouble believing that this could now be (or was ever) acceptable behavior.
It’s enough to make me think I should go have the bath and the sherry as a way of breaking out of my usual rut. I mean, if such a tame indulgence seems like the wildest decadence imaginable, clearly I have a bad case of the Februaries and need a bit of enlivening.
(1) Diana Wynne Jones, “Inventing the Middle Ages,” Reflections On the Magic of Writing, edited by Charlie Butler (New York: Greenwillow Books, 2012), 196-210, at 201.