Dear cranky, irritable, freezing and lazy: you are not alone. Anyone looking to find a scapegoat for extreme fatigue or pervasive apathy need only look to one thing, January.
Originating from “Janus,” the god of the doorway, January represents the door to a new year. Opening an unfamiliar door is chilling, and January is no exception In nearly every part of the northern hemisphere it is the coldest month, and therefore, excluding those insane few obsessed with frigid temperatures, the longest. In the most recent episode of the brilliant sitcom 30 Rock titled “Winter Madness,” Tina Fey laments to Alec Baldwin about the month’s ability to swallow our optimism whole, “Ugh, I HATE January. It’s dark and freezing and everyone’s wearing bulky coats.” Liz Lemon despises this month, so do I. Looking at the majority of grim faces I pass walking to and from class, so do most of you.
Historically, winter is seen as a unique picture of elegance. With delicate snowflakes and crystal clear icicles, it is quite literally the stuff that dreams are made of. The beauty of the season, however, seems to fade each year as the Christmas lights come down and the fake tree is packed away. It is no secret that “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is not now.
Perhaps the reason January is so horrific is because the primary holiday it boasts of leaves us not only with a resounding headache and nausea, but worse: resolutions we will spend the next 30 days breaking. Whether it is to get a better job, become more organized or quit smoking, most people ironically swear to make changes they are consciously aware they will never make. A good percentage of Americans last about eight days before running to the cookie jar or guzzling a dirty martini. Interestingly, anyone who has been to the Recreational Sports Center lately can see Miami University students are more determined than the average American.
Overcrowded gyms are January’s trademark. With losing weight widely recognized as the most common New Year’s resolution, it has become the month when non-gym goers, go. Fitness centers are suddenly filled to capacity and sidewalks are crowded with determined dog walkers. Two of those dog walkers (or at least I hope) are my parents. This year my dad finally made a resolution to drop weight, not from his own body, but that of my beloved 30-pound overweight golden retriever Lucy. Like any human fighting obesity, Lucy will have to eat less and walk more.
Although we all like to think our pets are perfect the way they are, a recent story about a Wisconsin dog illustrates the importance of being, in human terms, fit. Meet Jiffy, a 12-year-old border collie mix that represents to the dieting dog what Subway’s Jared represents to us, a success story. Unlike Jared, Jiffy didn’t make the decision that his weight had become an issue, the winter did. Roughly a year ago, after his owners forgot to call him in for the night, Jiffy froze to the sidewalk. Joined to freezing concrete in single digit temperatures for what could have been as long as 12 hours, what landed Jiffy into the predicament also saved him, his weight. Weighing in at 120 pounds, he could have been considered morbidly obese at the time. As Jared famously noted in countless cheesy Subway commercials, such an excess of weight makes even climbing two stairs difficult. Combine his difficulty of movement with a neglectful owner and Jiffy found himself quite literally stuck. When authorities came upon him in the morning the freezing dog was barely alive. Buckets of hot water were poured onto the burly canine until several men could lift him from the ice.
The story could have been a devastating one and should have been. But amazingly, with his multiple extra layers of fat, Jiffy’s weight acted as an insulator that kept him alive. Taken from his owner, who has since been accused of animal neglect, Jiffy was adopted by Patty and Peter Geise in the same town of Sheboygan Falls, Wis. After a year of a more balanced diet and regular exercise, Jiffy has dropped more than 40 pounds and is finally moving at the pace of a normal dog.
Jiffy’s story is the perfect foil to understanding January. It may be terrible, freezing and hopeless, but it has a purpose. Had Jiffy not frozen to the sidewalk a year ago, he may still be struggling to move with an owner who couldn’t care less if he didn’t. Had we not given up dessert for eight days we may never have realized how much we love Oreos. It is always darkest before the light, and January, if nothing else, makes us truly appreciate the sunlight when it finally comes. So cranky, irritable, freezing and lazy: hang in there, the next worst month will be here in a jiffy.