Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I See Your Fiction and Raise You One Cold Reality

I got up this morning and prepared for work by putting on clean pajamas, a cuddly robe and slippers.

Winter is coming.

I work from home. Where you might put on "office casual" clothes and yell at other drivers for a short trip every morning (after which you are rewarded with office donuts and marginally OK coffee), I shuffle down the hall, usually wearing whatever I slept in the night before and with at least one cat underfoot, trying to balance a large coffee cup, my breakfast and my phone long enough to get to the desk in the guest bedroom. I haven't spilled anything yet, but I have discovered that Henry the Ginger is the slowest walking cat in the long history of cats walking. Because he is species-impaired, his slowness is exacerbated by the common feline habit of constantly turning around to make sure I'm still behind him. Nothing I can do about that, I guess.

I have a (we'll call it) mild neurological condition, which makes that first cold snap of the year feel a bit like a week-long hangover. What the hell did I drink last night? Nothing? Goddamnit. I get head pain, neck pain, facial pain, ears ringing, blue toes (who doesn't love blue toes?), general malaise..."Everything hurts and I'm dying." The usual. Just...stupid crap, none of which is interesting or severe enough to take to the long-suffering physician for a whine session. Two fixes include the very strong pills and the application of heat and liquids. I hoard the pills and soak my suddenly dehydrated spine in hot baths, after which I dress in layers of slovenly casual until my body catches up to the idea that,'s coming.

I admit to being somewhat resentful of the world-wide appropriation of the phrase, "Winter is coming," but I don't blame George R. R. Martin so much as I blame our rabid appetite for internet memes. I'm a Minnesotan. Much like the Starks, a prevailing truth in my life is that Winter is always coming. The only time it isn't coming is when we are in the thick of it. We live it, so screw you, internet.

During the acclimation period, my brain rejects foods that I enjoyed all summer, even if I just ate it one day ago. Grilled fish and steamed vegetables? Fuck you. I want beef stew. I use the temporary misery time to re-learn how to make hot tea and soup. The constant need for liquid and warmth intersect in the kitchen. I bake bread. Legumes du jour change from raw anything to roasted everything. Why do you think Minnesotans make so many hot-dishes? Any excuse to turn on the oven.

Because Winter is coming.

Almost like clockwork, one of my dear ones texts me from his home in Phoenix. He's excited about a particular frozen custard, and I give serious thought to buying a plane ticket so I can sun myself like a lizard on a rock in his back yard, the sight of cactus and palm trees awakening my inner joy, as it always does. I do love Phoenix. I become convinced that the only way I will ever enjoy frozen custard again is if I move in with him, but...logically, I know it isn't true. In a couple of weeks, I'll be used to the colder weather and life will go on as before. I'll have put away all of the short pants and t-shirts and I'll have dragged out all of the jeans and wool socks and knitted caps that help me survive. It will all be fine, in time. I'll go back to being one of those Northern people who roll their eyes at the idea that it must be unbearable to live here. I'll think, as we all do, that anyone who can't handle it must just be weak.

It is coming.

We're ready.

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