Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Here's Johnny!

Well, here we are.  The first week of January has come and gone, and we find ourselves neck-deep in the wasteland that is the post-holiday season.  Call me grumpy.  Call me melodramatic.  Call me whatever you want...But I absolutely HATE this time of year.  I mean, I just despise it.  If there is a more depressing time of year than the six or eight weeks after New Year's, I haven't encountered it yet.  Aside from college basketball, what does this stretch of time have to offer?

The weather is totally awful.  In these parts, it's cold, but not cold enough to snow very often.  It's just an annoying cold that forces you to wrap up when you go outside, but no snow.  Just cold and wind and the occasional "wintry mix."  At least most of the time.  Even when we get a lot of snow, like two years ago, that gets old after just a week or so.

Everyone is sick.  Some more than others, but pretty much everybody has at least a runny nose that seems to last for weeks with no discernible explanation.  You can get your flu shot, wash your hands frequently, hook up to an IV of orange juice...None of it matters.  Really, the only way to avoid it is to lock yourself away in a mountain hotel somewhere and wait till spring.  And even then you'll just go crazy and start seeing ghosts.  And it's cold.

You come off of the cheerful holiday season full of family, presents, great food, time off and then all of a sudden there's seemingly nothing to look forward to for months.  Spring seems like it's a million miles away.  For most folks, it's too early in the year to use vacation days.  And it's cold.

All the trees are bare.  They're ugly and lifeless.  Grass browns and doesn't grow.  If you want to buy flowers for your wife, the only ones available are small and overpriced.  The days are short and the nights are long.  And it is just so damn cold.

When I was in high school, this time of year was a bit more tolerable.  I'd spend most afternoons after school going to the batting cage and getting some swings in, preparing for the upcoming baseball season.  We'd go outside and throw on the few days it didn't rain or was warm enough for us to stand it.  I played basketball a few nights a week, too, so I kept busy most of the time.  That helped pass the time.  I had February 15th circled on my calendar, because that was the day spring practice officially started, and the day winter unofficially ended.  The weather might still suck for another month or so, but at least I knew spring was right around the corner.

Now, though, things are a bit different.  I don't have those things to occupy my time like I did then.  I've got more important things to worry about.  But, that doesn't mean I haven't developed new ways to get through the doldrums that are January and February.  I've taken some steps to help ensure I don't go totally crazy waiting on spring to finally arrive.

Kentucky basketball is the main thing that occupies my attention during this time of year.  If you know me well, you know how big of a fan I am and how much I follow the Cats all year round.  But, I really amp up that focus this time of year.  Conference play kicks into high gear, and that plays a major role, but since college football has come to a close, and baseball is still two months away, I can put all my sports-related attention toward the Cats.  And it helps (as long as they're winning).

I focus on small chunks of time, rather than thinking in terms of months.  Instead of torturing myself by counting down the days to spring break, I focus on small things that pop up from time to time.  Luckily, this year, I'm going on a trip Super Bowl weekend with DJ and going to another Avett Brothers concert in February with Adrienne, Liza, and Jackie.  Those two big-ticket items will highlight the next six weeks.  Other than that, MLK Day and the SEC Tournament are there.  I have even broken down the school calendar and know how many days there are in between three-day weekends.  It's the little things.  It's sad, really.

Of course there's New Year's resolutions that can help, too, for most people.  Although, I must admit, I don't really have any this year.  I wrote a post last year about my disdain for New Year's resolutions, and I would say most of those are still in tact.  I did better in 2012 than I have probably ever done in sticking with my resolutions, so I figure I shouldn't mess with a winning formula.  But, most of the time, they can help occupy your attention for a while.  Maybe that's why people come up with New Year's resolutions to begin with...There's nothing else to do this time of year.

I might pick up a new hobby or try to get back into working out, although neither of those usually last very long.  I guess the main idea is to just try to keep your mind occupied as much as possible. 

If you long for warm days, sunburns, grilled meat, cold beer, mosquito bites, thunderstorms, boats, shorts, and flip flops then you understand my disdain for this time of year.  In the meantime, I encourage you to find ways to pass the long days and cure your cabin fever.  Otherwise, you might just go crazy.

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