Light in the Tunnel

It’s 7 a.m. on February 9th. I am under the covers to my chin; my face is covered with a pillow. The cat is somehow finding comfort sleeping on my neck and shoulder and I don’t have the energy to disrupt her. I know it’s 7 a.m. because my alarm is going off, but for the next few seconds I allow it to play background music to my thoughts.

In fact, there’s a lot I have to do, but lack motivation. There are essays to grade, emails to send, writing to do, cats to (wake and then) feed, a workout to suffer through, elements to brave, an office to go to, exams to invigilate, students to catch cheating, tests to grade, syllabi to make, God awful meetings to attend, and elements to brave again, all before I can come back to my house and put on my pajamas and read my book.

My defiance of the alarm is not simply motivated by task avoidance, it seems it’s also a collective case of winter exhaustion. It’s been dark in Prague for three months. On the other hand, the days are a steel endless gray that allow insight into Eliot Smith lyrics. Mother Nature has clearly been on a mission to beat us into submission with her weather. An alternating course of bitter cold, snow, rain, freezing rain, hail, sleet, and wind that burns my face makes me wonder if teachers are needed in Hawaii.

Additionally, it’s meeting season at the university, which means that I get to hear the apocalyptic doom that is befalling the university. It’s the same every year, but this year I am working in three departments, so I get to hear it three times.

I have certainly seen a shift in my seasonal appreciation since I was younger. I used to love autumn above all. I have an October birthday, love the evidence of season change, the somewhat mystical mood and feel of autumn. But anymore, autumn has come to represent what’s coming after: a cold, dark, long, depressing winter. So while I still do love autumn, I have shifted my seasonal adoration to the spring.

Spring is when Prague comes alive. The weather is warm and it stays light for much longer. Czech people don’t smile more, but they frown less intensely. It’s also the start of beer garden season, outdoor fun season, and baseball season.

I finally give in when the cat wakes up from my alarm and pokes me in the chin with one of the razor blades attached to her fingers. I peek out and realize that while it’s grayish and darkish, it’s not the all-encompassing pitch black that it’s been for three months at this time. I turn off the alarm and get back in bed with my tablet. I will delay the day for ten minutes with Facebook.

It’s then I see it in a friend’s post. The first sign of spring: the Philadelphia Phillies’ luggage. While pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Monday, February 13th, their luggage has already arrived. Forget the birds coming back or the first blooming flower in your garden. This is the first sign. I can already imagine having a beer and watching a businessman’s special in May, or catching snippets of a night game in June. Or in the summer, watching a game with my dad as we bitch that there should be no instant replay in baseball.

It’s a little light, but it’s enough to get me out of bed and to my desk, where I write this post that was, admittedly, not terribly good. In any event, they’ll get better as the season goes on.

Wish I could say the same about the Phillies.

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