Nobody is more relieved to see February than me. January was just one of those "perfect storm" kind of months. And I'm not even talking about the sudden onslaught of winter weather, though that was certainly a factor.
It all started out by fighting off a few days of flu-like symptoms, which everybody seems to be getting this year. Then it was compounded by the final half of a three-week stretch of lonely bachelorhood, with my wife Kelsey visiting her parents in South Dakota. Wow did I miss her!
Tack on a few hundred dollars in car repairs - addressed through two separate trips to the repair shop - the week before I was supposed to drive 2,000 miles round trip to pick Kelsey up and spend a few vacation days in the Black Hills. It got fixed Jan. 8, and I left Jan. 9, so praise God at least that worked out.
Fortunately, I did have a few relaxing days visiting with family in the Black Hills (though even then, the Packers lost while I was out there), but that was followed by driving 16 hours Jan. 13 - the last hour or so in near-blizzard conditions - and a full day of work Jan. 14.
I love my job, but there's still something semi-depressing about returning to work after a nice vacation. But things got even worse.
On my way back from covering two Monday evening meetings in L'Anse, I started getting chills, and after a quick trip to Walmart to pick up a thermometer, I confirmed that I indeed had a fever.
That's right, two weeks after staving off a couple-day bout of flu-like symptoms, it returned again with a vengeance. For those wondering: Yes, I got my flu shot back in November.
My fever hit about 101 degrees that Monday night, but during the next five days my temperature soared, peaking at 103.2. I finally went to the doctor on Thursday and, in addition to influenza, I was also diagnosed with thrush. Not fun. The fever finally subsided Saturday.
Now you know why you didn't see my byline in the paper for about two weeks, but I give my co-workers a ton of credit for filling in for me, including for the home Tech hockey series against Bemidji State that weekend. As somebody who loves to be busy, there's nothing more deflating, or boring, than spending a week in bed.
Finally on Monday I was able to come back to work, only to find out Features Editor Zach Kukkonen was leaving for an engineering job downstate. It kicked off a series of internal changes throughout the Gazette's editorial department, and we're all still adjusting to it.
Thankfully my job stays pretty much the same, with a few minor changes. But, add that to the barrage of high school sports events rescheduled due to weather, and it's been a crazy few weeks even when I was at work.
But alas, February is here, and with it, hopefully a return to normalcy (whatever that looks like ). It's awesome to have Kelsey back home with Valentine's Day just around the corner, and my health back to normal. It's great to have a car running well again, and a work environment that seems to be settling back into a groove.
Today I'll be at the all-day "No Regrets Men's Conference," a regional Christian conference being hosted locally via webcast at Grace United Methodist Church, and I'm praying that'll help get me back on track spiritually, too.
Maybe you, like me, faced some adversity in the month of January, but like I noted in last month's column, there's never a bad time to make some resolutions or get back on track.
Time to put that principle into practice once again. Here's to a fresh start in February.
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.