Snowfall

Snowfall mutes the world. It dulls the machinescape that is modern life, even in a small town. It makes familiar places foreign while softening rough edges and concealing the ugly and the industrial.

Walking through the snow is at once a return home, and a journey to a new frontier. Blanketed in austere sameness, old favorite trails become the haunts of frigid spirits, repetitive mazes where it could be all too easy to become lost. In the loneliness of snowfall, you can say words aloud that you never have before, and the wind carries them between towering pines, and they are lost.

Snow-covered New England Village

Quaint snow-covered villages are a New England specialty, and also its chief export commodity. If you buy yours from elsewhere, expect the same plastic seams as a bootleg Ninja Turtle.

When the snow falls, I am like a spy in a foreign country. Everyone cries out against the tyranny of snow—it makes us shovel, it makes us cold, we must clear our cars, we hate it, we hate it—but I am at home under the rule of snow. When the foreigners around me decry the snow, call for its execution under the rays of the spring sun, I halfheartedly raise a fist. “Grrr… snow. Yeah, down with snow. Or something. I guess.”
Unless I’m in the mood for a conversation. Unless I have the energy for a conversation.

* * *

Would you like to join a secret club? There aren’t many of us. No matter the differences in age or opinions or any trait you can think of, we are bonded by a love of the cold. There is an instant kinship between those of us who come alive when the world is frozen; when everyone else complains about roads and gloomy skies, the two people who say, “I like the cold,” and “same here,” know that they are kindred spirits. And they can laugh about how people are always telling them to put a jacket on.

* * *

Frozen didn’t convey the same sense of wintery-ness that I felt reading The Snow Queen as a kid. But it was a good piece of pro-snow propaganda, and I liked the parts where no one wore jackets when they probably should have. I got through one July reading A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin and fervently telling myself, “Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming.” And then it kind of didn’t.

* * *

Anyway, it’s in the mid to high seventies outside now, and that’s about all I can take.

Christmas swashbuckler

Today, I am a hero. Both the regular kind of hero, and the Christmas kind.

Actually, hero might be too strong of a word. Is there a word to refer to someone who fights against their normal morning slothfulness to do errands before going to work? Who finally returns DVDs to Big Lots for a refund after they’ve been sitting on the passenger’s seat for a month? Who pretends they don’t have social anxiety and asks people to be job references? I’ve overcome a lot of my lesser tendencies today.

But, I’m also a Christmas hero. Between this paragraph and the last one, I looked up “hero” on thesaurus.com. After all the synonyms meaning “hefty sandwich” was a list of awesome words. So when I say I’m a Christmas Swashbuckler, you know that this is not so much a reality-based or funny story-based title as it is a thesaurus-related whim.

Anyway.

My awesome new apartment has very few downsides, but one of them is that we aren’t allowed to have a real tree. This is due to the landlord’s insurance policy and the fact that dropped needles are a fire hazard. My mom got us a nice little spruce shrub in a pot, but adorable as it is, I’m having a lot of Christmas Jealousy over other people’s trees.DSC02239 My partner and I agreed that it isn’t worth it to buy a fake tree if it’s going to look like it’s made of pipe cleaners and sadness, so we agreed to go clearance fake tree shopping on December 26th after I get out of work and spend the evening decorating our new tree.

Today’s specific timeline of errands and car repairs made me decide to order Chinese food for lunch and dinner. Since I was six minutes away from the restaurant and the food would take fifteen, I pulled into a store that I hoped would have maple sugar candy (another errand, this one Grandma-given), even though I kind of knew it was actually a thrift store now.

The thrift store used to a large gift store, the kind of place that sold maple sugar candy, Yankee candles, and country primitives. Despite my lack of interest in most of their stock, I always liked going there around Christmas because it had that craft store cinnamon smell and was always decorated full-on for Christmas, like it was Santa’s workshop. Basically, depending on mood, it would either warm my heart with Christmas magic, or send me into a crushing depression.

The gift store was now a Christmas Thrift Store, at least for now, and as soon as I walked in, I saw a small grove of artificial firs. One of them was short and full, just like the real trees we always bought, and it had the same kind of realistic branches that I saw on a $400 tree just yesterday. “I am not lucky enough for this tree to be for sale,” I said to myself. “It’s probably a decoration.”

But I was lucky enough, because Christmas Magic.

As it turned out, the timing was even better than I realized. After I pulled up my car to get the tree in, I heard the woman at the store talking to someone on her phone. “Well, we had one you would have liked, but someone’s picking it up now. One is ugly. Yeah, like the Charlie Brown tree. And the other has fake snow on it. It gets everywhere.”

If the morning chain of events had been a couple minutes later, the store could very well have reserved the little tree for the person on the phone.

Instead, I now have a tree in the back of my car. Here is a Christmas tip from me to you: if you have a compact car (say, a 2001 Chevy Prizm) get a 5’ Christmas tree. It will fit in your backseat, even though your eyesight will tell you that this cannot happen.

Later, when my partner is asleep, I will sneak the fortuitous tree into our living room and decorate with the sneakiness of an elf and the daring of a swashbuckler.

Christmas lies

DSC02239

Softly glowing LIES.

Over the past month and a half, three separate people have told me that Christmas is on Friday this year. Two of them even talked to me at length about the benefits of a Friday Christmas, namely a weekend off instead of a miserable return to work, and plenty of luxuriating in gluttony and presents.

Naturally, I was excited. I don’t get vacation days, and I’ve had to go in to work on December 26th every year since 2011. And that really put a damper on Christmas itself, by essentially turning it into a Sunday, the most off-putting off all the weekend days.

You know this is going to end badly, right?

I spent a month in a glorious state of an assumed Friday Christmas. In my daydream, I would awaken and spoil my appetite for breakfast by munching on stocking candy, stay in my pajamas until 1pm, and spend most of the day playing with my new Legos (someone get me Legos, ok?).

A couple days ago, I mentioned to my boss that the December schedule he printed was wrong, because Christmas was on a Friday this year.

Finally, I checked a calendar for myself.

Yeah.

Guess I’ll have fun playing with my Legos on some crappy day like December 27th, if I even receive Legos on a Thursday Christmas.

There is a moral to this story, if it can even be called a story. Maybe it’s more of a grievance, or perhaps a saga. Actually, there are two morals.

One: spreading rumors and lies can hurt people. More than anything that ever happened to you in high school, more than any shit anyone ever posted about you on Livejournal, this story/grievance/saga really illustrates that.

Two: If you don’t trust other people’s medical advice without doing your own research, don’t trust them to tell you when Christmas is. No one would assume that three separate people would be wrong about something so non-contentious and easily verified, but apparently it does happen.

And a third moral: think very hard before you purchase your name as a domain name. Do you think that your own father is the type of person who woud lie to you about Christmas? And that, if he did, you would want to legally change your name and cut all ties because you can’t decide what hurts more: the Christmas misinformation, or the lies.


 

Note 1: Did you know that Black Friday is now an entire season? Black Friday deals starting in late October? I feel like I don’t even need to rant about that. It speaks for itself.

Note 2: I’m turning thirty in six months, which you would probably not guess from basically any aspect of this post.

Summer activities that are better in the cold

Laments about how short summer is are a common thing at this time of year. Hitting the beginning of August means that this dreadful time of year only lasts for another month. Lucky for us, the actual equinox doesn’t get a damn say in this. Summer ends when the mustard-stained labor day paper goods are thrown in the trash, and we all know it. There also seems to be some sort of summer-guilt brought on by not doing enough summery things. I don’t have the emotion of summer-guilt, but I can understand because that’s how I feel about fall.

No one needs to experience summer-guilt at all. As it turns out, a large number of common summer activities are superior in cold weather.

Running and hiking

Running in the summer, I am one with my environment, in the sense that my environment is a foul terrarium of pervasive humidity, and I am a sticky, sweaty humidity-wraith. No skin, no bones, only sweat and unhappiness.

Running in the winter, I am alive and joyful. Pushing myself through exhilarating cold, muscles pumping, the cold is manageable as long as I don’t stop. Plus, no one thinks you’re a badass if you go running in the summer. You’re a just a runner. But running in zero degree weather? Viking level badass points.

Hiking is the same deal, with one added benefit. In the summer, the trails fill up with people. Winter scares them off, and you can enjoy nature in all its frigid, austere beauty.

Kayaks on a beach

The birth of an armada.

Kayaking

Kayaking is easily one of the top things that makes summer bareable for me. I get the same exhilaration powering through choppy waters that I do running in the snow. Even in the summer. In fall, the waters are calmer. Jet-skiers have given up until next year. Autumn leaves ring the lakes, and reflect off glassy-smooth surfaces. Wood fire smoke fills the air.

Getting married

After physical activity, the worst way to exacerbate the heat is to dress poorly. All formal wear in existence is the epitome of dressing poorly for summer. Most people want their friends and family to be happy for them on their wedding day, not resentful of their life choices because of easily avoided discomfort.

Years ago, I went to a December wedding. The couple played Christmas music at the reception. Cupcakes with mountains of snowy white frosting were topped with candy snowflakes. The bride wore a hooded wedding cape over her dress. How cool is that? And it could never happen in the summer.

Wearing white

It’s not just at weddings. Wearing white, in general, is a lot cooler looking in the winter. This is coming from someone who hates to wear white. Imperious ice queens. The white witch. Princess Leia on Hoth. Actually, all I can think of here are female royals. But no one pulls off white like they do.

Star gazing

Ever notice how much clearer the night sky is in winter? Cold air can’t retain as much moisture, therefore you don’t have to squint up at the stars through a veil of humidity. Perfect clarity.