Friday, February 6, 2015

Essay: Hating Winter Less

By Pam Victor

This is the time of the winter that separates the pussies from the ass-kickers. It's a frigid February 6th in New England. The temperature is not expected to rise above freezing anytime soon. With windchill right now, it is 0 fucking degrees. Zero. Nada. Kaput. There is not even enough heat to register an actual number. Simple acts, like walking to the car or getting the mail, fill our days with dangerous treks that may or may not require the assistance of sherpas and may or may not land us on crutches for the next six weeks. Walking outside has become work. (How fucked up is that?!) We had a lot of snow. We have a lot of snow. We are getting a lot more snow. I heard a story on NPR last night about something ridiculous called a "snow farm" in Boston, where they have to create a farm to get rid of their snow because there is nowhere else to put it. It's like a reverse harvest of arctic proportions.

Even the kids want to kill the snowman at this
point of the winter.
And this is the year I decided to try not to hate winter so damn much. And this is the time of the winter when I need to put the pedal to my meddle to get over this last, eternal hurdle of wintery hate. So I thought it would be a good time to share with you some of the things that helped me hate winter less so far this winter:

Sometimes you have to look hard
to find the sun.
Seeking Light: Lighting more candles, stoking the fireplace, sitting in found sunlight, noticing blue skies, appreciating the additional minutes of sun each day - I've had to make more of an effort to welcome, notice, and appreciate all of sources of light.

Embracing Warmth: Likewise, I've tried to seek out and be grateful for any bit of warmth I could find this winter. In the beginning of the winter, I splurged a little at Marshall's, where I bought a few of the toastiest sweaters I could find. Most days, I'm wearing a scarf or two. If I'm sitting down, there is a blanket on my lap. On the coldest days, I'll pop on a knit hat in the house, which looks stupid as shit but really makes a huge difference. At night, I'll heat up one of those rice bag thingies in the microwave and bring it to bed with me. While the southern hemisphere is boggarting the warmth at this time of year, I pull any source of warmth I can find into my days and nights.

Layering the Layers: When I take off my clothes to go to bed every night, it's like clowns getting out of a miniature Volkswagen. The layers of clothes keep coming and coming and coming off. And not in a sexy way either. It's like the opposite of sexy with me huffing and puffing just to take off my pants. A sweater, then a long-sleeve shirt, then a t-shirt. Pants then tights. Two pairs of
My favorite winter poem
socks. It's exhausting! Sometimes I'm packed into my clothes so tightly, I collapse on the bed and beg my husband to help me because by the time I get to the tights, I've completely sapped my reservoir of strength. 

All Hail the Fleece Leggings!: Lordy lord! Fleece tights and leggings are the best thing for my legs since the invention of skin. I love fleece leggings so fucking hard, you guys. And, yes, I'll put on a pair of fleece-lined tights under a pair of fleece-lined leggings, and I don't fucking care what the fuck you fucking think. Judge all you want; meanwhile, my legs will be in heaven.

Harnessing the Power of Socks: Never underestimate the power of a good pair of socks. Preferably two. Some thick hiking socks over a thin pair of regular socks is a crucial part of me not hating winter. I don't try to tough it out anymore by being a so-called Hardy New Englander. I put on a couple pair of good socks every day, and that makes me happy.

Warming Foot Cream: Yeah, back to the feet. I know feet are kind of gross, but this winter I've given them some extra care because most other winters I've forgotten my feet even existed until the summer when I'm happily reunited with my toes. But this year, I pampered my little piggies a little more before encasing them in layers of cotton and wool by rubbing some warming cream that I had laying around.
There is a babbling brook under
there somewhere
Yeah, warming cream is a thing. Who knew? Is it a sexual thing? Have I been rubbing my feet with vag cream? I don't really care because it feels good and I don't want to put any perfumy crap on my delicate lady parts anyway. I think someone bought this warming cream for me at some point from The Body Shop. So a few times a week, I'll give my feet a little treat with some of this stuff and a little massage before bidding them adieu into those super warm socks.

Tea, Tea, and More Tea: My tea collection has always been quite a sight - I love tea so much, my BFF and I even wrote a tea review blog - but during the winter my tea collection really pulls its weight. Recently, I plunked down even more pennies on a spicy cinnamon tea that I discovered. Ginger tea is great. I even found a chocolate peppermint tea. And nothing chases away the chill like chai; plus a pot simmering on the stove makes the house smell like a delicious Indian bazar. (Also, I have no idea what an Indian bazar smells like. Please do not disturb my fantasy.) As it gets to be the time of the winter that separates the men from the boys, I'll be over here, all lady-like 'n shit, with my pot of tea.

Biking: I fucking hate exercise. No, seriously. I know you think you hate exercise, but I really do hate it. But in October, my husband got me this device that hooks up to my bike to make it into a stationary bike that I can ride inside. So if I really can't shake the chill out of my bones, I'll climb on to that thing while I'm watching some shitty-but-good TV show. Brings in the heat like a charm.

Ya, Mon: I've never been to Jamaica, but reggae music makes me feel like I'm on a tropical island. Steel drums played on the beach is the soundtrack of my winter. Any tropical music will do. To beat the winter blues, I try to fill my ears with sunset-tinged music meant to be listened to under the swaying palms while the ocean laps at my naked toes. Giant spleef optional.

Daffodils: Coincidentally (or not), Trader Joe's - bless their hearts - starts stocking small bouquets of daffodils starting the exact week when
Goddess bless Trader Joe for these
we least believe winter will ever end. They cost only $1.50. I've never been one to buy myself cut flowers, but these fuckers are worth it. I'll divide the bouquet to put a few on my desk and some in the kitchen, which helps to remind me to not believe the little voice in my head that says it will be winter forever.

Instragram: This winter, I fired up my Instragram account again. The act of posting pretty winter photos forces me to
Yes, sometimes I even use filters. Woohoo!
find the beauty in this season. It really is quite beautiful, isn't it? I mean, it's fucking obnoxious as far as seasons go, but it's astoundingly beautiful.

Laughter: If you know me, you know how important improv comedy is to me. Though it's been hard some nights to venture out into the dark to go to my improv comedy classes and shows, the laughter we share together never fails to warm my heart and soul.

Dog is My Savior: If I could like winter just 1/10th as much as my dog loves it, I would be better off. My dog LOVES winter. When she sees it's snowing out, Gemma becomes the earthly embodiment of Pure Joy. She bounds around in the snow drifts, burying her head, making little doggy snow angels, and she'll look at me like, "Do you see this????! I mean,seriously, Mom, can you believe how incredible this snow is???!?! And it's EVERYWHERE! Isn't that the best thing you've ever seen?!!!?!? All this awesome stuff is all over the place!!!! This is the best day ever!!!!" I can't say I share her boundless enthusiasm for the snow, but I do try to let some of it rub off on me during our daily walks.

Snow lover or coke head? Hard to tell.
But Gemma loves the white stuff.
Though the solstice is behind us, there is no doubt that the darkest, most brutal days of winter are here. The hope of Spring is the tiniest flame in our hearts that needs to be tended to and nourished to keep alive. Hopefully, some of these techniques might help you get through these cold, icy days and nights ahead until the tulips look like little red cups that fairies might drink out of.

* * *

If you like groovy stuff, you might enjoy
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Pam Victor is an improv comedian, author, journalist, teacher, and nice person. TJ Jagodowski,  David Pasquesi, and Pam are the co-authors of "Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book."  Currently, Pam teaches  "The Zen of Improv"  to the best students in the world, as well as bringing the power of improvisation to the workplace in her "Through Laughter" program. 

All her stuff is at

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