March 14, 2011

Beware the Strides of March

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This publication has only allocated me 1,000 words to discuss why March is the worst month of the year. I didn’t ask for more, but I don’t think it would’ve helped. It’s not in the spirit of March to be generous. March never gives you much to hope for.

It’s dreadful outside. The serendipity and snow that blizzards bring are over, but nothing comparable has yet replaced it. It will be a month before leaves are back on the trees. The bottoms of your pant legs are still wet, but the mud doesn’t evaporate away like the snow does. The semester is half over, and it is half over, but it’s only half over. Applications for scholarships, for funding, for summer internships have been sent out, but news hasn’t yet returned. So you march to your classes and study for midterms and send out cover letters, and while you march you wait for something interesting to happen.

March is the most appropriately named of all months. It’s a 31-day march, and no one ever wants to march or to be marched. Marching is non-consensual — its impetus never originates from the marchers themselves. Napoleon marched his army across Russia. American soldiers suffered in the Bataan death march. A group of musicians left to their own devices would never have invented the marching band.

In the linguistic free market of word choice we never use “march” to describe a carefree journey from one point to another. I don’t go on a march with a friend through the gorges, I walk or I stroll. Perhaps I’d saunter or mosey. If I marched to Chapter House on a Thursday night I would expect to sit down and tell everyone about something awful, like getting hit with bird droppings on the way. In comparison, a walk to Chapter House would be blissfully uneventful.

Even good marches are only a means to an end. If you could cure cancer without marching, you probably wouldn’t go on the March of Dimes.

Therefore, I find it fitting that an entire month of toil and waiting is named for a hegemonic verb. In Ithaca, oftentimes March really extends into April, as the weather and the work try to reclaim time lost over spring break. Then one day around the third week of April the spring comes back to your step, and the march becomes May. Leaves come back, the view of the quad is something worth photographing and awesome things start happening again.

May is a month of opportunity and realization, March’s literary foil. You may do well on your finals. You may make exciting plans for the summer. Maybe you get that great internship you were hoping for. Maybe it’s a beautiful day outside and you run into some friends sharing a pitcher at CTB. You may finally hear about your funding application for next year, or you may find money in your shorts from last summer.

Maybe none of these things happen, or maybe all of them do. You may never know. But in contrast to the necessity of March there’s a lot of chance inherent in May.

A big part of turning March into a stroll is how you get through the work and the toil. The key to somewhat enjoying the march is to mix up the drudgery of necessities with something completely unnecessary.

Sometimes when I get dressed in the morning I like to hold the waistband of my pants wide open and see if I can jump into the legs. If you can jump and land both legs in the leg holes, then all you have to do is jump one more time and pull the waistband up and your pants are on. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it’s awesome. I’m gonna do it tomorrow, and you should too.

Another way to make the march more interesting is to occasionally do a somersault when you get into bed. Prof. Maas might caution that such an adrenaline boost before sleeping isn’t good for your REM. My girlfriend senior year was afraid that I would hurt myself. However, I feel that extemporaneous physical actions can provide the kind of ridiculousness that one needs to derive some fun out of March. I wish I remembered to somersault more often.

So whatever your strategy is, remember to put some madness into March.

March is an obligation, April a gander and May a chance. So may you march forward, and when you do, stride with pride.

Ben Koffel is a first-year grad student in the College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He may be contacted at bkoffel@cornellsun.com. Come Again? appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

Original Author: Ben K.