Archive for January, 2010

I hate ice.

Except in my frosty beverage. Then, I love ice.

But this is the time of year that I HATE ICE.

Did you hear me, ice? I hate you! You scare the crap out of me.

You make me nervous and tense. You give me a headache. You make me walk like an old lady.You make me feel like an old lady. I toddle. I mince. I shuffle.

There is no confident stride with ice. No easy, swinging gait. No hurrying.

You make me feel like I’m a pig on a slippery surface — and I’m a farm girl who remembers seeing pigs walk on slippery surfaces — that moment of great surprise and indignation when their hoofs sort of gave out from under them and they had to kind of catch themselves with a squeal and a grunt. Yeah. That’s me. A squeal and a grunt.

Today I saw a young woman, a girl, really, about 16, walk into the museum as I was leaving. She was wearing skinny-girl jeans and tall boots with heels. The kind that look smart and stylish but also tight and impractical and painful. She was striding. She had the confidence of someone who didn’t expect to fall. And if she did, she would leap up, dust herself off, giggle a little and blush. Or someone would race to help her, because yes, she was cute. (Note: The one problem she might encounter would be those awfully tight jeans. No matter what your size, those things are hard to move in.)

Now if that were me — but it wouldn’t be, because I wouldn’t be wearing those boots — but let’s just say if it were — I would fall in slow motion and roll a little, praying as I went down that I wouldn’t break anything. Praying that I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital and spend three months in a body cast. Praying that my insurance was great for these kinds of accidents, and praying that I would be able to get up again.

That’s a lot of praying. There’s a lot of me to fall, and to pick up again. It would hurt. It wouldn’t be pretty. There would be blushing, yes, but also huffing and puffing and extreme embarrassment and concern about the aches and pains to come that hadn’t yet sorted themselves out. Mostly there would just be the aches and pains themselves to contend with.

There would be a moment — I am sure of this, especially if I were by myself, say, in the parking lot at work — when I would just want to lie there on the cold ground and look at the sky and rail at the universe, and God, and myself, for having to deal with such a painful and inconvenient situation. I would throw a lot of F-bombs around. I would worry about what would happen next. Then there would be a begrudging acceptance that at least I don’t live in Iraq or Sudan and if I have to go to the hospital or even just the doctor or start physical therapy, I can do that, and I don’t have to go home to my shopping cart under the I-35 bridge or the Dorothy Day Center. I would try to get up. There would be more cursing and rage and despair, but eventually, I would be back on my feet and I would proceed to mince, toddle and shuffle off into the sunset.

Ok, this might sound like a big metaphor for life. And sure, if you want to read it that way, be my guest. It’s fine, and kind of complimentary. Probably quite accurate. The thing is, to continue the metaphor that’s not intended — Iwould be able to deal.

But I would still hate ice. And I think you might hear a whole lot more about that feeling as this winter goes on.

Oh, ice. You plague me.


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What I Get Is What I See

… or perhaps I should say, “What I get is what I watch.”

I’m talking about television. And I’m going to make a shocking confession: I don’t have cable. Nope. NO CABLE AT MY HOUSE. People look at me in shock and horror — sometimes shock and awe — when I make this admission. “What are you, some kind of throwback to the 1970s?” Well … yeah, maybe.

And more shocking? I don’t really mind. Because … get ready for it: I like to watch network television.

Have I totally lost all your respect? Do you now see me for the shallow person I am? Too bad. (I also read People magazine on a regular basis. I believe it’s important to be on top of popular culture. Besides, I don’t want to read anything too taxing before I go to sleep.)

It’s not that I don’t want cable or that I think it’s bad! I’m just satisfied with the options I have on network. If I had too many choices, I would be sitting with glazed eyes in front of the television, channel-surfing in frustration 20 hours a day, trying to find out what time the TNT movie starts, what the Iron Chef is doing this week or how I can redecorate my entire basement for $10 and a glue gun.

Yes: I know I have an addictive personality. I know I could get sucked in. It scares me. When I watch TV at my boyfriend’s house, I surf with a mix of feverish delight and desperation. My thoughts get jumbled because I can’t remember what channel Animal Planet is, or what  channel the CSI re-runs are on. Then bits of shows kind of stick on the surface of my brain, and when I go to bed I have a collection of fluttery images in my head, all due to not really settling down with one show.

Not so true of network TV. I have my favorites, and even when I’m in the presence of cable, I often chose those favorites. M, my boyfriend, teases me that for starters, I am afraid to venture into the higher channel numbers. Not really. I just don’t need any more complications, any more shows I have to watch.

I am nuts about “LOST.” I always enjoy a good “CSI”  — original, Miami or New York, pick any flavor. I like “Ugly Betty,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Modern Family,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and that show about the nerdy scientists — “Big Bang Theory.” And I like “Glee” so much that I want to get up and start dancing.

But get this. I’m thinking of getting cable. Only the very basic kind, no premium channels like Showtime, or HBO. What’s that all about? The converter box and aerial don’t work all that well — bad reception, mostly.  And there are too many shows that I don’t want to miss. Network shows. I mean, a little addiction isn’t so bad, is it?

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Cold enough for ya?

When I woke up this morning, it was 14 below. That’s 14 degrees below zero. Yes. Farenheit. And if you are reading this any place besides Minnesota, Wisconsin, North or South Dakota or Iowa — that is to say, the Upper Midwest — oh, all right, I’ll add Alaska and I may as well add all of Canada — you’d probably be thinking that people who stay here are daft.

Well, maybe we are.

You would logically think that when it’s that cold, no one goes outside unless they have to. You’d be wrong.

My sister called and reminded me that we were going out for breakfast today. Great, I said, I’ll start dressing now and when you arrive in 45 minutes, maybe I’ll be ready. Of course we assumed that in this kind of cold weather, no one is going to be outside unless they really need to be. But oh, it’s probably not that bad, we decided. There won’t be many people out. Who would go out on a day like this?

Ok, the sun was shining. That should have been our first clue. When the sun shines in Minnesota, people automatically head toward it, drawn hypnotically — like zombies, only better looking. Doesn’t matter what the temperature is. THE SUN IS OUT! Then we need to get out, too!

So my sister, J, stops at my house and I have by now put on the layers: standard underwear, then the black silk long underwear — only the knee-length pants and the camisole, though; the long sleeves and the full-length pants are for 20 below and colder. I’m not kidding! Then on with the corduroy pants — warmer than jeans. Two pairs of socks — a light wool, then the world’s best socks, SmartWool socks. And a regular T-shirt. And a sweater. Then there’s the pashmina that doubles as a muffler, the warm hat (as opposed to the cute beret), the heavy gloves and the Lands End snow shoe-boots with extra insulation added. Finally, the full length down coat (again, Lands End –mine is fuschia!) and I roll out the door with no visible moving  joints. A puffy stick person.

As we head to the Highland Grill, our chosen breakfast spot, we discuss the nasty icy roads and the fact that we won’t see pavement for months. We agree to park in the lot by Barnes and Noble, our next destination after food — the parking lot is packed! What the heck is going on? Why are all these people here?

Walking across the street, we encounter a person who could be male, female or alien: completely swathed in hat scarves coat gloves boots — just a little slit between eyebrows and bridge of nose to see out.

The restaurant — also packed, outerwear stuffed in booths and on chairs, so the whole dining room feels upholstered. Gosh, we say to each other, and to Amy, our server, we didn’t think there would be anyone out today! She agrees: Why did all these people decide to come out in the cold?

Yeah, right. What are all those other people doing out today? What are we doing out today?

Simple. It’s in the blood. I believe that. We have some inner need, not only to seek out the sunlight, but to prove to ourselves and others that It’s Not That Bad (one of every Minnesotan’s favorite sayings). By golly, we are going to go outside, for to do so is to shake our fists at the Arctic chill. We are sons and daughters of Odin! We are descendants of Viking explorers! We thrive in adverse conditions! We have Thinsulate!

A little 14 below zero weather, as long as the sun is shining? That’s not gonna stop us. Oh no. Because it will also warm up.

In fact, it might even get up to zero. And that will feel warm.

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