As in “hope springs.” Except that for me, it doesn’t.
While I believe there are studies showing that optimists are happier people than pessimists even though they’re so often disappointed, I prefer to be a pessimist. That means that no matter what happens I’m either (1) pleasantly surprised or (2) right. I like both those states. My pessimism is studied and bred in the bone; I come from a long line of quietly pessimistic people.
This pessimism is a coping mechanism. For instance, when I was nine months pregnant. Oh my god, the worst month of my life. The only way to get through it was to stop hoping to go into labor. Like Eurasia at war, I would always be pregnant. This sounds cutesy, but I really believed it. So complete was my self-deception that I cleaned the shower tile’s grout with a toothbrush every day for six days in a row, but I was not nesting, because I was never going to give birth.
On the seventh day my daughter was born, and if that’s God’s idea of “rest,” he can get stuffed.
February is an exercise in pessimism. In January you plan your gardens and order your seeds, but of course it’s still winter. Of course you aren’t gardening yet. February, though? There are smells of spring. Warm(er) days. Less snow. In February, you make the mistake of hoping. If you’re us, you put together your titchy plastic-covered greenhouse and buy cold-hardy bedding plants. You are perpetually on the verge of starting seeds because it’s almost spring!
Except, of course, that it isn’t. Day after day goes by, and the last day of the ten-day forecast is not spring. The highs are still in the forties. The nights still frost. The ground is sodden and undiggable, and dear heavens, you want to dig. Every morning when you wake up to the frost and the forecast it’s all you can do not to scream into a pillow and give up.
So you cultivate pessimism. Spring will never come. You will never garden. The world is a dreary succession of gray days, and it was irresponsible to try going outside without a coat. Just give in.
This is also, coincidentally, what it feels like to have a novel on submission.