Tag Archives: Winter

(weirdsies)

14 Feb

After a dozen or so false starts (again), I sat down with my box of cookies to plunk away and finish up this post. (I might magically find more time to write if I committed to bring a box of cookies every time I go to the computer). I noticed a pattern in what I’d already fitfully written. Nearly every kooky and meandering phrase I typed was kissed by a parenthetical thought (oh my gosh, I love that). This is where the weird part of me who loves to edit would go through and clean them up, (and roll my eyes at myself, while I took another bite of cookie). But in a roundabout way, (hang with me here) it kind of illustrates how there’s a second layer to everything this month. Nothing’s been straightforward or expected or without my editorial input (much to the dismay of many, I am sure). So I’m going with it, and I’m leaving the parentheses, which I suppose is darn close to putting one’s inner monologue out there for the world (scary). So, for you grammar lovahs, instead of wincing every time you see a misplaced paren, have a cookie.

February is the most deceptive of the months. So unassuming and short, and then when it gets here, it’s like, “what in the h-e-double hockey sticks is going on? I’m a mess!” It feels really quite anti-climactic to say, “Well, it is after all February. We’ll get through this.” And “We all know what February is like,” nudge, nudge. Oh yeah, smart guy, what’s it like?

On paper, it’s great. You’ve got the Superbowl, Black History Month, Groundhog Day, two 3-day weekends (thanks Abe!), Valentine’s Day, the Grammys, and of course, the grand dame of late-winter-though-every-year-I- forget-that-it-doesn’t-take-place-in-the-spring event of the year…that’s right, the Oscars. And this year, we’ve thrown in bizarre weather (which has given us my new favorite word, snowmegeddon), an honest-to-goodness revolution, and a skeezy congressman with an iPhone (this is not a political statement. I’m just anti-shirtless dudes inviting you to the gun show, while snapping a picture of it with a camera phone, and then having it run repeatedly by every news outlet in the free world, that’s all.)  However, in our house, we’ve thrown in our family’s first experience of having to manage three overlapping sports, drama, choir (I’m obviously not the one in choir), a few major endeavors at the church, a flat tire, John’s noble reentry into academia, (I can’t not think about macadamias when I hear this, which is probably why I’m not the smarty pants who has to do all the fancy reading) and a cat that has figured out how to crawl all the way inside Zachary’s box spring and who insists on drinking out of our water glasses. (We are now forced to all drink out of, what John will only refer to as, sippy cups). And February doesn’t even get Fat Tuesday this year.

Last week, I sat around a table of bright, funny women, and we were discussing Revelation. Yup, the book of Revelation. (It was assigned and pre-planned and everything – it doesn’t just happen, like I thought it would when I went to work for a church.) That book is full of weird stuff that people throughout history have been pointing to as sure signs that the end is most certainly, nigh. (I’m pretty sure my dad would have thought the four horsemen of the apocalypse would be clad in bellbottoms). Anyhow, I brought up the weirdness I was feeling and observing, and everybody chimed in with their own tales of weirdness and February misgivings. Since we’d ruled out Armageddon with nervous chuckles, my first question, as it always is, was, “Is it a full moon? It feels like a full moon.”

“No but, it’s a strong crescent,” somebody said. That makes sense too, I thought, while I nodded thoughtfully and solemnly. (This absolutely supported my unsupportable hypothesis that the stupid moon is going to make us all crazy.)

Part of my problem, was that I was in the middle of a calendar crisis. Just that morning, I had stood in front of my color coded whiteboard calendar, with a hot cup of tea and a frown. It looked like a clown had thrown up on it, and I was depending on a lot of people, and a lot of grace, and maybe a miracle or two to get through the week, and perhaps even, the month. Everybody I know who plans events, me included, were starting to run out of months where we could put something on the calendar and actually expect people to show up. You can’t pick January because people are still recovering from the holidays, or they’re in Tahoe. You could do March or April, depending on how Easter & spring breaks fall, and how many Tahoe ski weekends people are trying to squeeze in. May is out – sports! June’s busy, nobody’s around in July or August. September is completely taken up by school stuff. October is a veritable cornucopia of harvest carnivals and soccer games, and then people will unapologetically laugh at you if you suggest November or December. Hello? We’re in Tahoe, duh. And sure, yeah, the holidays.

My 2nd favorite book from childhood is Mexicali Soup (the first is Miss Twiggly’s Tree, of which my own childhood copy is being lovingly cared for by Jacob). A large family moves to America from Mexico. The unfailingly patient mother is making her signature Mexicali Soup, and one by one the family members insist on the omission of an ingredient from the dish for a variety of reasons. By the time she serves her meal, it is a big pot of hot water. February was the last month I was clinging too before I was left with a big pot of hot water.

So just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, and that I’m ready to go and kick February in the shins out of sheer frustration, I’m surprised again. Granted, we’re just now half-way through the month, (and though I promised myself we wouldn’t, preparing to deliver the sugariest of sugary Valentine candy to pre-schoolers no less). But suddenly, the projects I thought I could never pull off at work have been fine, fulfilling, worthwhile, and dare I say, fun. A few extraordinary people have stepped in at exactly the moment when I needed them the most. We discovered that Trader Joe’s is still selling their candy cane sandwich cookies (or what I like to call, writing companions in a box), Girl Scout cookies have arrived (TV companions in a box), and I’ve seen two of the movies that have been nominated for Best Picture, (that’s 1/5th of the nominees, a spectacular ratio considering how many babysitting hours that amounts too.) And alas, the package I thought was surely lost in the mail, arrived safely.

February may be completely weirdsies, with that wayward r right there in the middle of its spelling. But its quirkiness is what makes it most representative of what life is like…unpredictable, hectic and living in the shadow of the longer more robust months. It’s full of hearts and sweets, furry rodents, political and historical relevance, inclimate weather, and just enough sun to seed the hope of spring. And of course the people. The people who can mysteriously and simultaneously bring me great joy and great frustration as they drift in and out and around…on their way to Tahoe.

let’s talk about the weather

1 Feb

The sun was out last week. It’s February 1, and I came thiiiiiis close to putting my coats away. Like away away, in a box labeled “seasonal” so I could shove them behind that box of VHS tapes that I still can’t part with even though we don’t have a VCR. (What tapes are those you wonder? I’m glad I assumed you asked, The Wedding Singer, She’s All That starring Freddie Prinze Jr., LA Confidential, the two-tape set of Titanic, and every episode of Twin Peaks,…of course.)

This weather hiccup is an annual occurrence in California. There are a few days every winter that are a total tease – where you get sunshine and warmth and those precious opportunities to push the button in the car that says “AC.”

Then of course, it rained this weekend. I was working on the church patio signing folks up for this and that, and trying to cheerfully answer questions while futilely attempting to convince Zach that animal crackers are in fact cookies, and not crackers.

My darling husband, on his way into church at the crack of dawn, and on his birthday no less, called to let me know that it was raining, and I should dress accordingly – he’s good that way. So, I brought my rain coat. It’s not a fancy church rain coat, with a belt and adorable buttons. It’s a legit waterproof raincoat meant for outdoorsy people (hey, I know some outdoorsy people), with a hood that was built to cover my entire head. It also has HyVent, which I assume is revolutionary coat technology invented in a lab complete with a mock church patio where they create multiple weather scenarios, specifically to keep me comfortable in inclement outdoor greeting situations.

So there I stood, saying hello to the scores of people streaming by, and apparently opening myself open for all kinds of comments about the sturdiness of my gear, my favorite being, “Wow, you look ready for anything!”  Oh, if only that were the case.

Just know that I know that if you actually live in a place where inclement weather conditions like, snow, and sleet and ice are a way of life – you are a stud. In fact the weather headlines for the past few days have included the word “bracing.” When you are bracing yourself for something, it’s usually not good. I can’t say that I was bracing myself for the intermittent showers over the weekend.

I know you have to shovel to get to your car and go the store, and factor in wind chill. I married into a snow dwelling family, I’ve seen this lifestyle in action. I’ve been at their house when snow has collapsed through the skylight, and when you have to cover every inch of skin just to go to the car. I’m guessing though, I was insufferable, asking everybody I came in contact with if they knew that it was 20 below, reminding them I was from California and adorably new to this. I of course called my parents to report the temperature and the the good news that, in spite of the catastrophic sounding temperature, I had in fact, survived the day.

Today, more than a 1/3 of the country will get a snow day, and you might be one of them. I know you have snowblowers and bigger jackets and warmer boots and shovels and scrapers. Good for you! And I mean that in a serious, non-smart-alecky way. Snow and ice living is hard, and treacherous. I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due…and it is due to you, my tougher, less whiny, and far hardier friends. I totally own my weather wussiness.

I love the sun. I looooooooove it. I am super pale and freckly and should relish in the fog and the cold, like I’m sure my ancestors did. But no. I found myself driving to lunch the other day in a particularly chipper mood, ready to treat myself to some flame broiled goodness simply because the sun was out and it made me happy. The music was loud and poppy, and I was smiling like an idiot, and thinking about maybe, just maybe, sticking my head out the window for a moment while I drove. I wanted to create a Twitter account in the drive-thru, just so I could tweet about it.

I like to think I was built for sunshine, because I know what happens when I’m deprived of it. The day that John and I moved to San Francisco, nearly 15 years ago, we were newlyweds. We’d driven a U-Haul up from LA with a couple of annoyed cats in a carrier and our buddy, Bouncer (that’s his name, not something we moved with – though it sounds fun when you take out the comma – “hey look, buddy bouncers are on sale!”) It was August, so I thought my choice of tank top and shorts was a reasonable one. But there I stood in the back of the moving truck, at 4:00 in the afternoon, guarding our 1970’s oversized wicker Gilligan’s Island style chair, shivering and wondering what exactly we’d gotten ourselves into.

That’s the day I knew that things were about to change. Sure, new hubby, new job, new friends, yada yada, but oh my, it was gong to be cold here.

Our first nights in the City, we walked through the fog to get pizza, Chinese food, tacos, and even Pierogi. The foghorns were loud, and ok, maybe a little romantic, but our apartment was terribly damp and comically cold. In the morning, you could see your breath inside, and it was always wise to wear a second sweatshirt for lounging. Years later when the walls kind of started to fall apart, we found that the building had been insulated with newspapers from the 1940’s. But that was part of the undeniable charm of the place, and most certainly the source of the mold that had grown in our suitcases.

There were more than a few days where I’d be headed home on the 38 Geary bus, squished in the aisle or trying to keep my face away from the rear end of the stranger standing at my side who was holding the rail above my head. It would be gorgeous outside, but ahead I could see the bank of fog starting to creep in, and I could point at it and glumly say, “See that cloud? That cartoony looking grey mass? That’s where I live.”

We eventually moved to Marin County, and while John mourned the loss of his precious fog, I would have a dizzying sense of euphoria as we drove home across the Golden Gate Bridge each evening, leaving the grey of our old neighborhood behind for the much more hospitable sunshine. Did you know that Seasonal Affective Disorder is for real? It is. I was suddenly ready to go do things! To go outside! I think I may have even suggested we go on a walk once!

And though talking about the weather is a clichéd cop out for a discussion topic, we are all fascinated, because the freaking weather can easily determine the content of our day. We talk about it for a few reasons – a) it’s kind of a big deal, b) it’s also truly sometimes the only thing we have in common with the person we are talking to c) it’s often the one science any of us have any working knowledge of and d) we have absolutely no control over it, which is where it gets exciting. I have at least three weather related apps on my phone, and during most months, I’m usually just bracing myself for temps in the low to mid ‘60s.

I’m thinking of you my wonderful snow bound, ice bound, blizzardy friends who get out of school today, or have just spent the morning digging out your car. I know that wherever you are, you probably look like you are ready for anything.