Friday, January 29, 2010

Accepting Winter's Limitations

My friend S. came up with a very smart new year's resolution last year. She told me that she was going to be at peace with winter's limitations, and that's been my cold weather mantra ever since.

I think the most important change that came out of this philosophy is that I now allow myself both ample time for donning layers and the freedom to look like a complete freak. I don't care how unsexy my blue marshmallow coat, two scarves, baggy jeans and long underwear are. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees, I have no concern for fashion. I'm stunned by the number of hatless people I see walking around in unzipped jackets. They all look miserable, trying to fool themselves that winter can't overpower their day-to-day habits or their style. But the cold will get the best of them and mess with with their minds and spirits. I honestly believe the most important key to beating winter depression is to accept that looking dorky is way better than freezing.

But I figured out a couple of other things, too. Like yesterday, I was contemplating what it would be like to be a bear and hibernate. What if Dan and I gathered a bunch of food, stayed in, and just ate and slept all the time? Then I realized, that's exactly what I do when it's this cold outside, which inevitably leads to me feeling like a loser (as a bear probably does not). But so what if I don't go out as much in the winter? I'm saving money and at least half of the time I'm doing something creative like writing or cooking. I admit, when it's this numbingly cold I get into regrettable, low brainwave habits like watching "Matlock" reruns via the digital antenna (and even looking forward to it) or obsessively composing Youtube music video playlists. Yet I know I'll shed those lamer pastimes along with the unsexy layers once the weather gets better. In the meantime, here in the middle of winter, my brain is just not peppy enough to do it's usual batch of thinking so I seek simple, mindless activities.

Accepting that winter limits my brain power hasn't been easy. I get really frustrated when I make little mistakes at work, which happened a lot this week. But there's nothing to be done about it. I take some comfort in the fact that everyone is a little stupider these days, so I'm not facing a unique disadvantage. I like to pretend we're all drunk or drugged, like one of those Star Trek episodes where an alien force infects the ship and all the crew members get loopy and have sex. All I'm saying is that I think there are some good laughs to he had out the situation.

So that's how I'm keeping myself afloat on these single digit days. I'm also going to the gym more often. In fact, I need to go so I can assemble my skin-covering mosaic of workout layers. I think I'm going to go for the look Dan describes as "homeless track star". After all, if there's any place where I always feel comfortable looking like a complete freak, it's the gym.


  1. Wendell: I've been making a concerted effort to stay indoors as much as possible this winter (he said, having cycled home through the snow that evening without having to), and I was worried it would affect my mood or something, but I have so much to occupy me that it doesn't seem to matter!

  2. Staying in has been more enjoyable than I expected. I've been doing a lot of writing and cooking. I'm trying a new recipe every week, which has been a fun adventure. I also enjoy slightly nutty projects that combine calculated thrift and cooking, like this evening's 5-hour broth-a-thon (I made it from a $3 turkey back and frozen vegetable scraps). I now have two gallons of turkey broth and no clue what to do with it, but that begets another adventure I suppose...

    though not on the scale of a bike ride through a snowstorm! That's pretty cool.