Saturday, March 17, 2018

In/Out Like a Lion 

Engraving of a lion's head

I left my hobbit hole this morning to find the ground covered in the lightest dusting of snow. It was beautiful and I hated it. March has been an unceasing extension of this endless winter. Elmore Leonard once advised writers from ever describing the weather but that’s exactly what I’m about to do. The weather of March reminds you the world is weird, mysterious and unknowable which I suppose is another way of saying it is crap. Here (and I am led to believe elsewhere) March is doing that thing when it sucker punches you right in the kisser. We’ve had warmer days in February than we’ve had in March. This of course, is unfair, but whoever said climatic conditions should be just? Seeing the sun, rare as that may be, is certainly no indication of warmth. Even a high ceiling of cloud means nothing. There may be rain. There may be snow. There may be nothing at all other than that overwhelming feeling of dread which the dingy light portends. The day before our clocks were cruelly spun ahead someone remarked on the strange blueness of the afternoon light. It was an unusual dusk which felt as if you had just donned a pair of polarized sun glasses and realized the world looks very dreary when polarized. The city had the pallor of grey meat, drained of life and appeal. This was a very March day.

For me March is thirty-one days of malaise; it’s got days and days of malaise. Named for Mars, the Roman god of war, March seems like a mean joke by a bully, an atmospheric version of slapstick. If not covered in the dirtiest of snow and ice, the ground is stuck somewhere between frozen and mud. It seems no matter what coat you cover yourself with, it will be the wrong one, either too light or too heavy. The temperature is always plus or minus the number of degrees you might find comfortable. That’s it really. March is discomforting. Purposefully discomforting.
“I would require all the cakes and and all the kegs”
Here is March’s most malignant reminders of exactly how wretched it is: March is when all those tax forms wash up in your mail box reminding you that the tax man cometh. Surrender now all thine receipts unto thee. March 11 stole an hour of my sleep with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time. How exactly are we saving daylight? Is there a magic solar mason jar no one told me about. March 14 is Pi day, an eery unresolved infinite number celebrated with actual pie and unrelatable mathematical mysteries. It is also Einstein’s birthday and now, Stephen Hawking’s death day. Thanks, March. March 15 is the Ides of March, a day known by Romans for the settling of debts (see “tax forms”). March 17th is the International Day of Irish Mockery known colloquially as St. Patrick’s Day. Did St. Patrick drive snakes from Ireland or did he instead bring small green glittered hats in which all drunken folk must adorn to forsake their dignity? Some will no doubt enjoy themselves whilst the rest of us avoid stepping in their sick. March 20 will be the first day of spring, a day that should be joyous but how do you celebrate spring when crunchy ice recedes only to expose cigarette butts and dog turds? The cherry on top of this dung-sundae? March 30 is Good Friday. A day we’re reminded of how a pleasant carpenter with a penchant for preaching got stuck up on a crucifix just for telling people to behave themselves. I always felt Easter was that time when the church was constantly wagging its finger at everyone for how sinful we all are. Well, my apologies for being human.

I’m not sure what my point is? You can’t fight the calendar? Time “marches” on like an unstoppable army which defeated the Romans, Genghis Khan and the Nazis. Is it any doubt that time can defeat your spirit? My most played album for the month has been the Dunkirk soundtrack. I’m not stuck on a beach being gunned down by enemy fire but it feels that way. So let’s just call March a lost month. A gap in your timeline. Of course, some people have birthdays in March and for them a bit of cake and a quaff of beer might do the trick. I would require all the cakes and and all the kegs to feel better about this time of year. It’ll be over soon. In like a lion, out like a lamb? This year March feels more like a revolving door: In like a lion, also, out like a lion. A very large contrarian cat.

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