Getting Through February

Red_Heart___1.2011Unlike T. S. Eliot, I believe February is the cruelest month.  It’s when the snows are the deepest, the winds are the coldest, and even though the days are longer, the winter seems harsh and unending.  I have a bias, too, from my youth.  Growing up in the south, spring came in March, so February was the end of winter.  Here in the north, we have at least another month of snow, wind and cold to go.

February is cruel to me, as well, because my daddy died in this month, decades ago, and my longtime companion Ron died 13 years ago today.  But bad stuff happens in every month, you know?  Good things happen as well.  My niece Judy and my sister Juanita were born in this month, and what would life be without them?

So my goal with February is to cheer myself up as much as possible, enjoy what I can, and move on.  Here are some things I recommend for these cold, dark days, and the warm hearts we all know and love.

  • Have a good cry.  See “Les Miserables” or watch a good old tearjerker on Turner Classic Movies or Netflix.  “You had me at hello.”  Hello?  My favorite:  “Enchanted April.”
  • Chocolate.  The more the better.
  • Go to a warm spot if you can afford it.  If not, take a movie holiday.  Gidget Goes Hawaiian!
  • Don’t be proud.  Call a friend if you need one, and just hang out.  DO NOT think Facebook or Twitter is a substitute for human companionship.  IT IS NOT!
  • Go shopping for something inexpensive.  This is a true story.  When Ron was in law school at Yale, he was friends with Anita Hill, a fellow law student.  I came up from Philadelphia (Wharton) to visit, and we were chatting.  She said to me, “When I want to go shopping, I go buy nail polish, because it’s pretty, and it’s cheap!”  We were all starving students then, but there is still a lesson there.
  • Hug your dog, or your cat, or your rabbit, or your hamster.  They are warm, small, and don’t understand why you are unhappy, but they still love you.
  • Re-read a book you love.
  • Read a book you haven’t read before, especially if it’s unlike anything you’ve read before.
  • Call or write someone and thank them for something nice they did for you.
  • Do something for someone else.  It’s the best way to get outside of your head.

I hope this helps.  Let me know what you think.

The Sessions

I saw a really great movie this afternoon–“The Sessions.”  If it comes to your town, it will be at the local arty movie theater.  It’s not a blockbuster by any stretch.  But the emotions it raises are both quiet and profound.  Here’s a link to the Rotten Tomatoes review:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_sessions/

It’s based on the real story of Mark O’Brien, a man who was stricken with polio as a six-year-old child, and had to spend the majority of each day in an iron lung, since his muscles were paralyzed.  His parents refused to give up on him and cared for him at home.  He went to college and became a poet and journalist, moving into an apartment of his own.  In the movie he knew he was approaching his “use-by” date, and he wanted to lose his virginity, and experience what that meant.  So he consulted with his priest (he was a devout Catholic) and hired a sexual surrogate.

The amazing thing is, the movie is not really about sex.  It’s about intimacy, and pleasure, and caring.  And, ultimately, it’s about the need for love, much more than the need for sex.

Helen Hunt as the sexual surrogate plays her as a complete professional who just wants to help him as far as her role permits, no more.  But even for a professional, emotions have a way of coming in.

It was the most human and humane movie I’ve seen in a long time–caring, nonjudgmental, and, ultimately, loving.  In a time when sex seems to have been downgraded to reality TV and stupid, uncaring behavior, it’s reassuring to see two adults who aren’t beautiful (although Helen Hunt is still lovely), or vampires, or drunk on the Jersey Shore, being intimate and kind.