Tag Archives: winter

A Moment in the Sun

We were lucky that Easter Sunday this year was picturesque in terms of weather. For the first time since October we reached 70 degrees and had sun, something we could only fantasize about during the harshest winter in history.

I took advantage of the opportunity and spent part of the afternoon working outside before sitting in the sun on my deck, listening to the ballgame on the radio and watching the squirrels perform Cirque du Soleil moves on my half-empty feeder.

squirrel

As I sat there, I remembered scraping the ice off my windshield on those subzero mornings, driving 20 mph to work on icy roads and shoveling feet of snow. At that time, all I could think about was a) where I could move and b) how much I would appreciate days like we were having that day—warm, sunny and safe—if the frozen ground ever thawed.

But then eyes closed, sprawled out in a chair like an albino lizard on a heat rock, I found my mind going right back into my routinely obsessive thoughts on work, money, food, writer’s block, exercise, what I “should” be doing that day and in life, etc.

That moment in the sun with no obligations had suddenly turned into the storm in my head that so often clouds up my mind. And in some ways I was more present in the middle of winter fantasizing about the warmer weather than I was present in that moment actually sitting in the warmer weather.

It was then I overheard the neighbor kids say, “Poke it and see if it’s dead.”

 At first I thought they meant me, but since it came from the other side of the fence I assumed it was a small woodland creature. And while I’m sorry it took it’s probable demise to  bring me back to the present moment, I’m kind of glad that it did.

Because I do this all the time.

Part of me gets excited for or works towards something, and then when it happens I’m already moving on, dismissing it as something to check off a list instead of enjoying that moment. I don’t feel accomplished or calm, but rather wonder, “Okay, what’s next?”

It’s easy to fall into that trap in today’s society of “more, more, more.” Sitting around reading or listening to the ballgame isn’t always as “admirable” as doing, doing, doing all the time. There’s that constant need to know just what is next.

But as one warm day in the sun reminded me, I don’t have to fall into that trap.

I can choose where to place my attention and my intention by saying “yes” to a moment and “no” to worrying about that next thing all the time. If my mind would get out of my way, maybe I could relax and remember this more.

After all, the temps are back in the 40s with rain this week—Mother Nature is a cruel, cruel shrew at times—which proves how fast moments can pass.

Just ask the critter cadaver next door.

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Under the Weather

If you’re tired of me complaining about the weather, I can promise this post isn’t just about that. Instead I’m going to use it as a fancy metaphor for depression in an artsy attempt to complain about the weather.

The fact is this winter has been brutal already. We have about 18 inches of snow right now, are already around 80 inches this year and they’re predicting another storm this weekend. We had four days in January with no snow and haven’t been above freezing in weeks. And it’s only February.

Needless to say, FTW.

Aside from the actual cold, I struggle with a commute that gets complicated and dangerous, keeping my driveway and car clean when there’s nowhere else to throw the snow, worrying about the impact of the weather on my house, the increased bills, etc.

And more than ever before, the weather has upped my depression. Well, I’m blaming it on the weather, but in reality that could be a coincidence seeing as it’s been just as relentless for years.

But much like the weight of this winter, lately it’s crushing me down.

The OCD, the exercise, the hopelessness—it’s come to a point where I wonder when I’ll break, either physically or mentally, and yet I keep  testing those limits. I keep waiting for some event so significant in my mind that I’ll feel compelled to change, that the cloak of depression and obsession will fade and voila! The metaphorical sun will melt the snow and everything will become sun-shiny great!

But of course, that’s just magical thinking.

So instead I fight myself from both sides—the terrifyingly powerful disorder that wants me to cling to it and the part that wants to live a life without it. Finding a balance between the two might seem like having the best of both worlds —Yay! I’m a semi-functioning person balancing disorders and depression, well done!— but we know that’s not the case.

Because while everyone has heard how things have to get worse before getting better, what it doesn’t say is that you should make things worse before they magically, somehow get “better.”

So for the first time in years I actually went to a therapist.

It’s early, but so far she “gets” me. She’s a vegan holistic yoga teacher and I want to move into her office, but I think that violates some kind of ethical code. Anyway, much like dealing with winter, therapy is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. It’s expensive. It’s not fun.

But eventually you just reach that point—breakdown again or breakthrough?—and that’s where I am right now. I don’t feel like I’m really “me,” and even more scary, I’m not sure who that “me” is anymore but I owe it to myself to find out.

Now you’re probably wondering a) why I’m sharing this with you and b) when I’ll shut up. Frankly, I wonder that, too. I mean, how do you respond to this as a reader? What good does it do to ramble on about this when I would rather put up something funny?

Part of it is healing for me, getting it out there and telling someone. Part of it is that social stigma (and pride) often prevents many people from discussing these things. However, I do it anyway because maybe reading that I feel this way will help someone to feel less alone — or at least ridiculously sane in comparison.

So to wrap this all up and come back to that meteorological metaphor, I’ll say I have no control over weather, but I have faith that spring will eventually come. The sun will shine, the gray and desolate cold will recede and we’ll start to dig out of this hole.

healing

I’m ready to dig out of this hole.

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Go for the Gold

The winter Olympics are coming up, so I hope you’re ready to compete for national pride!

Well, maybe you’re not an Olympic athlete in the traditional sense, but I suggest we look into some new alternative events.  After all, anyone who has slipped on a fabric softener sheet and performed a double axle on the kitchen floor knows we’ve been training our lives for these moments.

“Slush Shopping Slalom”

In this event our amateur athletes at the grocery store get behind the wheels of a grocery cart and enter not a smooth and icy track like a bobsledder gets, but the slush-filled parking lot of the store.

Large amounts of stamina are required to make it to their car in less than 10 minutes. And while lower body strength is needed to propel the cart through the slush, upper body strength is necessary to try and steer the cart away from the direction the slush wants to go—most often into another parked car.

The athlete who clocks the quickest time from the automatic door of the store to their car without taking out any pedestrians is declared the wintery winner.

“Weather Update Biathlon”

While the biathlon usually includes cross country skiing with random stops to shoot things with a rifle, this event requires the athlete to check the weather report by running to the window to see if it’s started/stopped snowing yet, checking other sources of information—Internet, TV, radio—and then shooting off updates to anyone who will listen.

Competitors who can do this the most number of times in an hour will be annoying, but also declared the winner. Extra points are given for checking more than one source simultaneously.

“Digging the Car Out of the Snow Sprint”

In this event, the athlete is given a shovel, an ice scraper, a parked car and two feet of snow. The first team to get their car out of the driveway and get to work on time wins.

Using your arms to push the snow off the hood of the car and/or the automatic car starter for the front windshield is legal, as is using various forms of profanity. However, bribing the neighbor kid to help by stealing their sled is grounds for immediate disqualification.

Bonus points are given to the competitor who can open up the driver’s side door without any snow falling onto the driver’s side seat.

“Outdoor Freestyle Photography”

Here competitors are given a digital camera and 30 minutes to go outside and take pictures of how much snow has fallen, often using things like rulers stuck in the snow for comparison and captions like, “What happened to global warming?” and “Can you believe how much snow that we got?”

After the time is up, each athlete is required to submit their top images to the judges who will decide a winner based on technical merit, required elements, presentation and number of “likes” on Facebook.

“Refuse Relay”

Athletes are timed as they put on multiple layers of clothes and run from the warmth of their house to the trash bins stationed outside, deposit the bag of trash, wheel the bin down to the curb and then sprint back into the house, all before a) the trash collector comes and b) they freeze their ass off.

This event is usually frantically done in the early morning hours on the day of trash collection, and bonus style points are given to the competitor who can take off their winter boots without losing a sock in the process.


So as you can see, this will obviously require massive amounts of carb loading and couchgating on my end. Lucky for me, unlike skiing or luge—this is an activity I’ve been training for my whole life.

Go for the gold!

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Give Me a (Moisturized) Hand

It’s the time of year when my hands get so dry and cracked that my fingers snag things and I fear inflicting a gaping wound on myself with one haphazard itch of my face.

Winter weather equals dry air, dry air leads to dry skin, and no amount of molesting my home humidifier helps prevent bloody knuckles and fingers that rival those of a prize-winning boxer.

I admit that I don’t do everything I can to prevent this, as you’ll see below, but I am really trying to remember that typing with Band-Aids on my fingers does nothing more than create a new language that even I can’t understand.

But for those with less of a self-sadistic nature than I apparently have, let’s examine our options.

Apply lotion early and often.

This is obvious and something I do year round to just about every square inch of my body, sometimes because it’s needed and sometimes because it smells pretty. But in the fall/winter, my skin soaks it up like a sponge and I have lotion on my desk, in my purse, etc.

its-a-full-time-job-basically

The problem is that my brain often runs out of order, and so the cycle goes something like this: Put on lotion, get distracted and go do something else that necessitates washing my hands (basically everything, which I know is part of the problem) or getting them wet, realize what I’ve done and make a mental note of mistake, reapply lotion, forget mental note 1.3 seconds later and repeat the cycle again.

In other words, I go through more bottles of lotion than a horny teenage boy. Learn from my mistakes people—or buy stock in Jergens.

Limit your time in the shower and use only warm—not hot—water.

It’s been my experience that showers are a great place to spend 4 minutes thinking about all of my problems and 1 minute actually showering. I also read the shampoo bottles out loud in the multiple languages —“Shampoo/shampooing” “cranberry oil/huile de canneberge”—and compose great literary works in my head.

I think it’s something about the steam releasing all the creative things from my brain or something. Look it up. It’s probably a thing.

Anyway, while I try and limit my time in the shower—and my water bill—I do enjoy these moments of self-proclaimed genius before they’re sucked down the drain with the suds. Plus, it’s nice and warm in there, so I (incorrectly) figure extra lotion will make up for the five minutes of warm misty love.

Wear gloves when doing dishes.

This is a great option in theory. In fact, I’ve even gone so far as to purchase thick yellow gloves from the store and keep them next to the sink. However, much like putting the vacuum in the middle of the floor and then walking around it for a good day or two before using it, availability does not guarantee usage.

whaaat-i-never-do-that-especially-not-all-the-freaking-time

The sad thing is the damn gloves are right next to the sponge that I use, yet I still don’t put them on every time, as if the effort required was comparable to putting on a NASA space suit. But when I do put them on, I sometimes forget that I’m wearing them and dry my still-gloved hands with the towel because I’m a genius.

So to summarize, do as I say and not as I do and you might make it through winter okay. And for that, I shall give you a (moisturized) hand–and then promptly go wash mine again.

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Brush It Off

For many people who live in a state that experiences winter—and I don’t mean 50 degrees one day out of the year, California friends—snow is inevitable.

That means that for those of us who don’t keep their vehicle in a covered garage because the weirdos that built their house 60 years ago failed to equip the garage door with the tools to be automatic, scraping the ice and snow off said vehicle is pretty much a regular thing.

snowtruck2

It’s also almost a science.

I have a remote car starter that I can activate from the warmth of my house, but it’s an automatic car starter—not an automatic “scrape all the crap off your entire snow-covered vehicle including the roof and the back end”-type thing.

There’s still quite a bit of work to be done.

  • Hit the starter so the defroster can begin its work.
  • Dress as warmly as possible with coat, hat and gloves. Take off my gloves when I remember I can’t tie my boots with big gloves on.
  • Gloves off, I tie my boots and make sure to tuck my pants into my socks so I don’t a) lose my sock when I take off my boots and b) get snow stuck in my boot.
  • Put gloves back on. Struggle to unlock and open the door.
  • Take gloves off, open door, head outside and put gloves back on.
  • Get distracted and shovel the walkway.
  • Grab snow brush out of my car.
  • Brush the burst of snow off the driver’s seat that falls in upon opening the door. Every. Single. Time.
  • Start with brushing the snow off the roof.
  • Curse the wind that is blowing the snow directly back into my face and continue to brush what I can reach, leaving an icy unreachable island in the middle of the roof.
  • Move on to the side and back windows. Feel proud that I remembered to brush off the lights and my license plate, both caked with ice.
  • Prepare plan of attack for the windshield. Sometimes there’s only a dusting of ice that the defroster can tackle alone. However, some mornings the ice is so thick that I need the strength of a roided up rhino to scrap that stuff off.
  • While strategizing, a large gust of wind will blow through.
  • Notice that half of the snow from the hood of my car is now lodged between my sock and my boot.
  • Wonder why I’m living in such a frigid climate, how the bastard groundhog keeps his job and yell at the garage as it mocks me.
  • Take rage out on scraping off ice.
  • Scrape, scrape, scrape…still scraping.
  • Lift up frozen windshield wipers.
  • Scrape, curse, scrape, curse, scrape…still scraping, still cursing.
  • Realize the defroster is starting to kick in and actually helping me out.
  • Quit cursing.
  • Get hit in the face with the snow from the roof that I couldn’t reach with the brush.
  • Resume cursing.
  • Decide it’s “clean enough” and walk back towards the house.
  • Shovel the walkway again before struggling to unlock and open the door.
  • Take gloves off, open door, head inside and take off boots.
  • Build small igloo out of snow that’s removed from my boot.
  • Show cat small igloo made from snow that’s removed from my boot.
  • Clean up bloody scratches on my arms from less-than-thrilled cat.
  • Decide it’s not worth leaving home.
  • Turn off car.
  • Make tea.
  • Spike tea.
  • Count down the days until spring.

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Be Mine

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Valentine’s Day—that holiday in between Christmas and Mother’s Day that card and flower companies use to guilt people into spending more money in an effort to show that they care.

I know. I’m a hopeless romantic.

But to be honest, even though I’m single and not willing to mingle, I really don’t mind Valentine’s Day. I like the decorations, the fact that I have a reason to bake and the image of a meddlesome cherub flying around armed with a weapon.

So to celebrate the holiday this year, I’ve decided to forgo sending myself a heartfelt card and instead explore a few viable Valentine options. (Food and drink suitors were excluded, as those are obviously tops on my list.)

My Shovel

We have been spending a great deal of intimate time together these past couple of months. It hasn’t been easy, but I have to admit that the shovel’s icy demeanor is oddly compatible to my own. Together we have made the neighbors jealous with our quick and thorough removal of things in our way—mostly large amounts of snow—which left me feeling slightly superior and a little bit cold.

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Okay. Mostly cold.

And while I get the feeling that as soon as things heat up it’ll be gone, I’m okay with the seasonal nature of our relationship. I like my space…and being warm.

My Couch

If by “afternoon delight” you mean coming home after work, watching “Ellen,” plodding away on the computer and then eating, we have a serious thing going and have for some time.

Our love is nothing new — my couch gets me, it really gets me. While it took me a long to let myself literally settle down and relax, I now find comfort—and often a stray piece of broccoli — in the confines of the cushions.

Scentsy

We were introduced this past Christmas by my mom, and given my love for smelly things and not being left in the dark, this combination nightlight/air freshener is basically all that is proper and good in this world. Never fussy, never needy, a simple flip of the switch radiates both light and light scents. I have to admit that I’m smitten.

Uncle June

This cranky bastard is still hanging around, and while he’s a good backup plan and travel companion, the drunk dials at 2am have seriously got to stop.

june2wine

However, I just can’t deny that creepy little face and the fact that he speaks not a word.

This Blog

We fall in and out of love, usually on a day-to-day basis. At times I feel like I don’t know what I would do without it, while other times I feel like it’s that pain-in-the-ass friend you have to constantly reassure isn’t a huge loser who nobody loves (and that no, their ass doesn’t look big in those pants.)

Our relationship has spanned years of good times and bad and evolved into something I never thought it would—a book, priceless connections, a reason to overshare and broadcast insecure rambles to strangers on the Internet.

But I suppose that’s just how love is—a wonderfully messy mix of delight, frustration and Internet stalking.

I know. I’m a hopeless romantic.

*This post was not sponsored by Scentsy. However, Uncle June slipped me $20 to mention him.

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Who is your Valentine this year?