Well, I wasn’t in the mood to color this, but to make it up for you, here is a song! It’s an example of my songwriting philosophy, which holds that if you end a song with enough chaos people will forget that the rest of the song was horribly out of tune! This one is about the weather, because Midwesterners love to talk (and sing) about the weather.
(Right click and “save link as” to download)
It was a drizzley, grizzley day, but more than that, it was cold. It’s the kind of day that would depress me to no end if it occurred in June, July or August, but somehow in September it seems to slip past me, escaping the abuse I would normally have for anything below 75 degrees and sunny. And anyway, I spent some time last year defending the winter as something charming and novel, if not wholly enjoyable. Who am I anymore? Post-California winters have done less to damage my spirit. And in fact today, once I got over the initial shock of the drop in temperature, once I resigned myself to a long, hot shower and then curled up on the couch with a blanket, I caught myself looking forward to winter, as if it were my new guilty pleasure. Who am I anymore? I’m looking forward to the day that our landlord turns the heat on and my bedroom turns back into an incubator. I’m looking forward to a scarf and mittens. Who am I anymore? This summer was too short, but it was hot enough to make everyone else complain, which means that it was perfect. I’m done complaining about the weather. Heaven will be 85 degrees with a hot breeze–I’m content to wait for that.
I’ve given up on reading C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy. There are too many obscure Classical references, and my thumbs have gotten tired from checking every archaic word that no longer exists in the dictionary. Plus the second due date is approaching (I’ve already renewed) and if I don’t get halfway through a book in a month and a half it’s just not going to happen. It’s a pity–I think that somewhere in that book was something I would be wise to read.
Speaking of books I’ll never finish, I picked up three more from the thrift store on Saturday. Three (short stories) by Flannery O’Connor, The Comedians by Graham Greene, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Well, I’m sure I’ll finish that last one at some point, but it doesn’t count since I’ve read it before. No repeats! Books shmooks. I admire my friends who can sit down and finish one (or ten), because I can’t seem to muster the attention.
Unrelated, I know we aren’t supposed to apply the word “love” to inanimate objects because it cheapens the emotion, but I just can’t help it: I love our deck! Now that it’s finally gotten warmer outside and the leaves are pushing out of their buds and the neighborhood is coming back to life, I’ve been struck by an incurable bout of spring fever. And there is no better place to suffer through this malady than on our deck. Really. I love it. I do.
(A note: Last year Spring Fever was Jenny Lewis. This year it is Belle and Sebastian. Roll down your windows and listen.)
(Another note, upon second reading: I really grabbed from the standard stock of transitions in this post, didn’t I? It reads like something I would have blogged four years ago. Cute, in some ways. But there, wait, am I becoming a snob?)
Today I cut up an onion, just to see if I could cry, to see if I had any emotion left in this dried up, crippled heart.
Boo hoo, haha. That’s Xanga style! Take that you emo kids.
Actually, I DID cut up on onion today, but it was really only because I was making red potato salad, which went rather deliciously with my black bean burger topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado. Holy yum! I am beginning to understand this species’ fascination with food. Once my stomach settles a bit (I had quite a large dinner) I am going to make myself a mango-pineapple smoothie and sit under my daylight lamps in my studio and give painting another try, because truth be told, I couldn’t ever give it up. (And thank you to anyone who wrote me an encouraging comment yesterday, although some of you technically did break the rules laid out in the title. I appreciate it anyway!)
We are almost halfway through March now. Halfway through the worst, most depressing month of all, at least if you live in Wisconsin (no offense to all March birthdays!). March is a tease, normally, but this year it’s been just plain prudish. It’s not giving us even a glimpse of spring. Even today, when it was supposed to be in the mid-40s for the first time in too long, it felt cold, although it must have been above freezing because along with the potholes I drove through lots of puddles on the way home from work. Day light savings has hit extra hard this month; just as we were getting used to the lighter mornings we are plunged back into something like January, and although I hear birds when I wake up they seem to be saying, “Hey, what the heck! Who woke us up?” instead of “Tra la la, spring is near, spring is here!” Well, all of this sounds like one big paragraph of complaining, but I assure you it’s not. Because, remember, I was rather into winter this year. I opined about the beauty in desolation and despair, and the recurring thought in my mind through the onslaught of snow and ice and wind chill advisories (and repeat) was how silly it all is, this arctic lifestyle we lead. No, I wouldn’t want you to think I am complaining, but I freely admit that I am looking forward to spring. Especially after a winter like we’ve had, as I imagine every ray of sunshine will feel that much warmer, every sugary-scented blossom will smell that much sweeter. I even read in the paper today that Madison is going to start a Pothole Patrol, which makes me happy. The potholes are dangerously close to becoming natural wonders: “Junior, smile for the camera, now, hey! Don’t get too close to the edge!!!”
Anyway, today’s title doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a phrase that popped into my head while I was chopping up my onion (and was, in fact, a bit weepy). I thought it would make a good title for a blog post, but didn’t want to wait around for a pertinent subject matter. It could also be an appropriate title for a Harlequin Romance, if you’re interested in buying the rights. Come to think of it, it could also be the name of a good emo band. (Xanga!)
On a recent drive home with my brother I explained, amid a battle over the climate control, the way that I experience hot and cold. I won’t try to fluff it up for you, it’s pretty simple: Hot is a pressure, and cold is a vacuum. Maybe this is nothing new, but my brother seemed to think it was a pretty silly idea. But for me, that’s how it works. Heat presses snugly against my body, while cold pulls away. It’s a simple matter of security. It’s why I’d prefer to wear a turtle neck or a scarf than to wear a shirt with a wide or low-cut neckline. It’s why we prefer hugs and human contact. It’s why we sleep under blankets or at least a sheet even when it is warm out. It’s why we wear clothes at all. It’s that pressure against our skin. Does this ring true to anyone else?
When I am driving in the winter by myself I crank the heat up to levels others would find cruel. I love to do this to myself. I love it for the same reason that I love cooking in this bedroom where I am currently sitting. I can’t be hot enough. Cold, to me, is the same thing as floating in outer space, with that ever present pull against every inch of your body, threatening to tear you apart. Just thinking of it makes me curl into a tighter, sweatshirted ball here. Am I crazy? Is there some scientific truth to this?
The cold is lonely, that much I know is true. And warmth, naturally, is companionship.
But at this point, even those who “prefer it cool” are on tenterhooks for spring. Good grief!
Now that Mitt Romney has dropped out of the race I guess it’s decided: Barack Obama is the last handsome candidate remaining and therefore I must cast my ballot in his favor. Hm. Good grief, you know I’m always kidding about this, right? (And for the record, I was never planning to vote for Mitt Romney, even if he is a stud). I’ve actually spent some time these days trying to learn more about these folks who would be President and I am a little bit torn. Who is the best, really? At one point I was sure it was Obama, but maybe not? Maybe I’ve just been caught up in the hype? It’s exciting to think that Wisconsin’s primary might actually matter this year. In the week preceding our election they will all come to our fine state talking sweet, but who will really bring change? Who will get us out of Iraq? Who will make health care affordable to all Americans? Who will pay attention to the poor and hungry, both in our country and in the world? And who will fix these potholes???
I’ve never seen so many potholes in my life–this winter has not been kind to our roads. Yesterday we got over a foot of snow. We are one inch away from the record snowfall and only halfway through winter. We are one pothole away from the record also, and I think that one of these days while driving, my car might fall into one and that will be the end of me. Politics won’t even matter, I’ll be dead or at least lost forever, swallowed up by the crumbling asphalt. Who will I vote for then? Who will vote at all, once we’ve all disappeared into these potholes?
Oh, and one more “P”. Persepolis has finally come to a theater near me! I have been waiting a long time for this! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl6kH3xPwDU&rel=1]
Hello year 2008.
I am changing. Really! It used to be that I hated Wisconsin and hated the winter, and maybe it’s way too early in the season to make a statement like the one I’m about to, but I think it’s maybe becoming the opposite. Here is the thing: for a month now it’s been freezing cold and wet and slippery and gray and dark and all those depressing adjectives, but it’s done very little to make me depressed, and in fact it has me a little bit excited about the coming three or four months of this weather. Honestly, what is becoming of me?
In the spring of 2006 I moved back to Wisconsin after living for nine months (including one winter) in California. I thought, “Surely when this next winter hits I will experience heightened depression, having tasted the alternative. Surely I will regret my choice to return and will take the first presented opportunity to get the heck back out of Wisconsin.” I was bracing myself for a reaction like that. And granted, last year’s winter didn’t start until after the New Year (we’ll have an entire extra month this year!) but those dreaded feelings of gloom never came. Why not?
Of course there were distractions to help keep my mind off of the weather. I was starting my new temp job at the bank, I was applying for grad school, I was preparing for my Northern Waters art show, I was falling in love, those kinds of things. I’m positive there were days when I muttered about the cold and vowed to return to a warmer climate, but I don’t think it was ever very urgent, or very sincere. Through all of last winter you could say I tolerated the season but I don’t think you could say I appreciated it yet. You certainly couldn’t say that I liked it.
No, it seems those emotions would come this year. Earlier I wrote a post saying I found winter to be hilarious, but also noble and endearing. It brought us together as a Northern people. We are stronger for facing these winters. We are braver, kinder, and generally more well-balanced. Some would say we are crazy, for remaining in a climate so unkind to the human race with our naked skin and reckless driving, but the people who say that are neglecting to notice some of the things which I have been noticing–for the first time even –this winter.
If we take the unpleasant decrease in temperature and the frustrating conditions of the roads and put that aside for a moment, what you have left is one of the most fascinating aesthetics of all the seasons. The lush color of spring, summer and fall are obvious choices, and I will always love those seasons more than winter, I think. But winter–look at it! Who doesn’t enjoy waking up and finding that the world outside has been covered with a fresh blanket of pure white snow, and everything–the power lines and the tree limbs and the housetops and neighbors’ cars–is all part of the scenery? Of course we like that, it’s a post card, it’s a snow globe. And when the sun shines down on this landscape it is dazzling. But that’s not the winter I’m talking about. I’m talking about the winter that is gray and sloppy, melting and freezing and melting again. The streets are dirty and the sun hasn’t been present for days, and the trees are bare and twisted and ugly. There is no Christmas cheer and no one is walking around with a skip in their step. We are all depressed.
Except we shouldn’t be! Because there is something gorgeous about this miserable landscape. The world has been, temporarily, drained of color and we exist in the gray scale. Aesthetically it is remarkable–it is challenging and the values are subtle. We can’t rely on color to tell us anything. The world is a line drawing. Metaphorically it is just as challenging. We are grimy humans and we can, for a time, dwell in a world more suited to our dismal thoughts and continual failures. Life can be so ugly–here it is! We have this season to truly wallow, if we want to, or if we’re not the wallowing type we can be that beacon of hope, that smile which signals that spring will surely come. We will thaw and the ice around our hearts will melt. I’ve never been so sure of spring as I have been this winter. “I don’t mind the weather, I’ve got scarves and caps and sweaters.”
People living in warmer climates have troubles too. If you move there, you will not leave them behind. I’m glad that I learned this.
Greener Grass (From the August EP, August 2006)
There are these monstrous icicles hanging from the eaves of our apartment building. I am talking about five foot icicles and I’m not even exaggerating. I am talking about teeth—-giant, twisted, frozen fangs. Knives. Glass machetes. Glass harpoons. I park just about underneath them, and I’m a little bit nervous that one of them is going to break off and kill me. Remember when I said that winter is hilarious? Well, being impaled by a giant icicle is not hilarious. Some of these icy teeth have fallen (or possibly been struck down?) and lay in jagged chunks along the driveway. When I drive through them to park I worry that my tires will be punctured. Having tires punctured by shattered icicles is not hilarious.
I thought I’d have more to say today but I guess I don’t.