• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


Optimism or Gallows Humor? You Make the Call…

A warm February.


February 22, 2018

Wednesday was uncharacteristically hot for a Northeastern state in February. A few of the classrooms actually become uncomfortably hot, and we couldn’t turn on the air conditioning because the college had previously decided -- reasonably -- that February should be a good time to take the cooling towers offline to repair them.  

It seemed like a safe bet.

Whoever said April is the cruelest month was wrong. February is. It’s the time of year when it feels like it has always been winter, it will always be winter, and the sun will never come back. It doesn’t have a major holiday to distract you from the cold. Sometime around early February is when I feel like winter has made its point and can leave anytime now, thank you very much.  

So a weirdly warm and sunny day in February means finding excuses to go outside. 

People who know me know that I walk faster than most people. But I’ll admit a certain lack of urgency when walking between buildings on Wednesday.  It was just too glorious not to pause for a moment and take it all in.

Students, characteristically, adapted to the heat in milliseconds. I saw one young man in a t-shirt, khaki shorts, and boat shoes. In New Jersey, in February.  I don’t know his name, but I salute him.  

The moment that gave me pause, though, came when I overheard a couple of young people I assume were students chatting outside the student center. One of them said:

“Global warming really takes the edge off February.”

I couldn’t decide if it was optimism or gallows humor. Maybe a little of each. And I could see a basis for both.

Yes, the idea of weather getting progressively weirder over time is scary. My own area got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy a few years ago, so this isn’t an abstract proposition. But a beautiful day in February is a beautiful day in February, even if it suggests something disturbing. Guilty pleasures are still pleasures.


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