Thursday, February 20, 2014

End-of-Winter Misery Round-Up

Once upon a time, it was almost Christmas. Do you remember how good you were feeling back then? I sure don’t! When I try to imagine a time during which I romanticized snow, seasonal alcoholic beverages, fabulous winter fashion, and days spent curled up in bed watching movies or reading, I find myself at a complete loss. The dream is dead. I’m so cold that the divine prospect of me in short shorts sweating my tits off at a rooftop concert in ninety-degree heat seems like a fucking pipe dream. It’s all over. We’re doomed to a life of ducking out of the wind and huddling in a miserable cocoon of our own making. My cocoon sucks! It is the product of the most punishing winter I have seen in my eight years of living in the state of New York. It is so goddamn freezing that my life has been reduced to various sequences of survival techniques that make me feel more and more savage by the day. Come with me, if you dare, for a day in my S.A.D. winter life. Here's how I do:

I used to get up at 7:35 a.m. on days where I needed to shower before work. Those days are long gone. I learned the hard way that the hot water in my building sucks and that if you snooze you lose. I now get up at 7:00 to steal the hot water from everybody else. It’s not so bad because this way I’ve been getting to work earlier and I don’t have to worry about running into anybody I know on the train, but what I wouldn’t give for those extra thirty-five minutes! In the summer I can take a cold shower and it is the most refreshing thing, it’s like I’m EXCITED to get up early and get in there. Nowadays I feel terrified to step into liquid because the bathroom is cold and the prospect of running out of hot water when I haven’t even STARTED conditioning my hair makes me want to shit my pants. The thing that REALLY sucks, though, is that even if your shower is piping hot, you will get cold all over again when you turn the water off. Your drafty bathroom will lash your wet, naked flesh with goosebumps. You cannot win. Basically, everything is painful right now. The cold fucking HURTS!

Remember what I was saying about being excited about winter fashion? It’s over. I want to throw every sweater, every wool sock, all of my flannel and both pairs of my winter boots into the fire. Basically I have been dressing like a fucking MAN for the past three months because girly clothes are inherently freezing. My cutoff shorts sometimes surface when I am digging around for a pair of clean jeans and I curse the day that the sun's warmth ever kissed my pale, pasty skin! Why can’t New York be in Florida! Or Southern California! Someplace “balmy,” even though that word gives me the creeps. Why did "god" or whoever bestow this curse upon me of not wanting to live anywhere but here? These are things to think about while throwing on a third layer.

X-Files, Walking Dead, Twilight Zone, Twin Peaks: Take me away to a fantastic realm! Entertain me while I order way too much food off of Seamless and justify it all by being like, “oh well I’m hibernating and it’s okay if I get fat because the fat will keep me warm and I don’t even care how my body looks anymore because it’s hidden underneath all of these layers of man clothes.” Scare the shit out of me! Spirit me away to a place both wonderful and strange. Where I am right now is not wonderful, nor is it strange! It is just COLD and DARK, and I live in the night- only the night. I'm in THE BLACK LODGE. Please, Paranormal TV Shows, take me away from the Black Lodge. The truth is out there, I want to believe!

During the week I need to take it super-easy and sleep a lot so I won’t want to kill myself when I have to wake up super-early to take what may or may not be a hot shower. The early mornings make me want to do very little at night, and this makes for an uneventful, extremely non-social week. When the weekend comes, I am suffering from cabin fever. Not having plans to see people on the weekend feels like the kiss of death. The monotony is so great that I will proceed to overschedule myself, hit up way more social functions than seems humanly possible, and of course DRINK WAY TOO MUCH. I have been going off the rails. I justify this behavior by saying that these short days are meant for drinking away, that it is OK to be wild and violent against one’s own body, and by promising myself that I will do better next year. Revising my winter behavior is, at this point, futile. What's done is done, and things will be better when I can wear cuffed jeans and my lace-up Vans with no socks and my favorite tee shirt- which, by the way, I am currently wearing underneath my favorite sweater that I now hate.

This is the worst. In my room I am always freezing because I am lucky enough to have two beautiful windows. In the warm months I leave ‘em open and it feels like being in a treehouse or on a porch. You can sit up in bed and drink coffee and watch the branches of the trees on my block tossing in the wind. In the winter, I pay the price. The draft from my windows gives me cold hands and cold feet and hard nips. My space heater is about to eat shit. It has gotten considerably more rattle-y since I started REALLY running that fucker at the beginning of January. There’s a timer on it, and I set it to run for three hours when I go to sleep. I always wake up when it switches off. The lullaby of its annoying rattling ends, and I wake up when it is so late and so dark, and everything feels scary because I am always waking up from a horrible nightmare that has no doubt been brought on by too much freaky TV. This is the loneliest hour. I am never more aware of where I am and how cold it is than when the timer goes off. I lie in bed and think about my dream and curl my toes around my comforter. The white noise is replaced by silence, and I get that thought that everybody thinks in the dead of winter: It will never get warm again.


BOO HOO! Terrible, I know. Summer is the time for sulking, fall is the time for brooding, and winter is the time for misery. Whenever daylight savings time begins, I always feel strangely excited for this misery, and I have always failed to understand why. In the beginning it is exciting: it's like the cold and the dark provide an excuse for melodrama, for sloth, for terrible decisions. At the end, it's as old and crusty as the hybrid piles of snow and garbage lining your street. I suppose extreme sadness and recklessness are just cheap rushes that winter is the most willing to accommodate. What more can we do except wait for it all to be over?

By the time you read this, I will be on my way to catch a plane out of JFK. The freak warm spell will hit while I am away, but I like to think that by the time I get back most of the ice will have melted and that the rotten thaw of spring will have begun. Misery will give way to wistfulness, because wistfulness is the fairest of all the forms of anguish, and spring is the fairest of all the seasons.