Coping Mechanisms In My Daily Life

As I move around my apartment, scrubbing the walls around my windows in preparation for my yearly tradition of covering them in a layer of insulating and draft-blocking plastic, I am struck by how much of my life is taken over by what are essentially coping mechanisms for things beyond my control. I’m also struck by how many bugs have died in the three weeks since I last pulled my carpet back to sweep the half-inch of space between said carpets and my patio door, but that doesn’t really make for an interesting blog post topic. The entire process I’m going through is one meant to mitigate the fact that my apartment complex has absolutely terrible windows that not only leak cold through them like a sieve (thanks largely to their terrible metal frames) but that are so poorly installed or maintained that they don’t even block the wind. It’s much more difficult to detect when the entire frame is uncovered, but putting the plastic over them makes it clear that there’s wind blowing through them almost constantly.

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The First Taste of Wisconsin Winter

[Another casual reminder that I write these a week before they go up, since it’s currently summer in Wisconsin again]

It is snowing again today. Over night, the temperatures bottomed out in the high twenties and even hours after dawn, with temerpatures flirting with freezing for hours already, there was still the pale remnants of the morning’s frost on the deep green grass outside my apartment. Flurries of small, damp snowflakes fill the air like mist and dampen the world as the trees drip what remains of the snow that landed on them from their brightly colored leaves. I am bundled up against the wind and chill, my layers quickly dug out of the closet when it became clear that my usual fall garb would be insufficient for the day, and still I briefly consider turning around for a heavier coat. I walk along the sidewalk, tracing the same old path from my front door to my car, but far more attentively than in past months for fear of slipping on the ice that stretches across the sidewalk. Today, I miss the comfort of holding a warm mug in my hand as my new coffee cup prevents any heat from escaping it but I am grateful that my coffee will still be warm throughout my entire drive to work on this blustery, snowy morning.

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Winter Is Coming, Weather I Like It Or Not

It snowed yesterday (here’s my usual reminder that I write these a week ahead of time, so really it was eight days before this posted). It was fairly brief and I only got a bare glimpse of it because I was busy at work. I couldn’t stop to go watch the mixed snow and sleet come down, which was unfortunate, but I did get to see a bunch of people walk down a hallway I can see from my desk and a lot of them were dusted with the stuff. It’s not really the same thing at all, but it was enough for me to know it was snowing and when it eventually stopped. It was a weird occurrence, given that there hadn’t even been rain on the forecast when I went in to work that morning, and weirder still when you consider that we had a 24-hour period that hit the mid-sixties at the lowest just two days prior. Sure, it was above freezing so the snow didn’t stick around upon landing on the ground, but it was still weird to get our first snow in mid October. I mean, just recently I was thinking about how weird it’d be if we got our first snow before Halloween again and here we are, more than half a month beforehand. Now we’ve got a span of days sitting around freezing before we pop back into the sixties and maybe even seventies in about a week. Absolutely normal weather, for sure.

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The Changing Season Through My Window

After what felt like a lifetime, summer has ended. Fall is here in all its bright, colorful glory. The trees have begun to change from the pale, warm, or emerald greens of summer to the various browns, scarlet reds, muted yellows, and eye-catching oranges of Fall. It is a slow process, where I live, striking seemingly at random rather than in the calm orderly manner the trees displayed when coming to life in the spring. Different trees of the same type begin to change in their own time, content to merely overlap instead of coordinate. Spots of red appear at random and the giant green tree outside my window has four parallel streaks of orange in it, like Fall somehow passed by and rent the summer from its boughs with massive claws. Already the parking lot fills with fallen leaves and the summer heat fades into the haphazard warmth and chill of the changing season. It has been barely four months since the trees finally tore free from winter’s grasp and I find myself wondering if that is part of the reason so many branches stayed bare this year.

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I Wear Shorts To Spite The Weather

I used to be one of the people who wore shorts even during the depths of winter. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the world, but in the Midwest of the US, it is fairly common to see such folk, frequently masculine in appearance (but not limited to that by any means) trudging through blizzards and all but the worst wind chills. It always made sense to me, given that I spent most of the winter indoors, in buildings with their heat set for people who needed a higher external temperature to be comfortable. I didn’t want to attempt to change the ambient temperature for my comfort alone, so I started wearing shorts and upperbody layers that were easy to remove (zippered hoodies, mostly) so that I could be comfortable. It wasn’t that I was immune to the cold outside, just that I was willing to endure a few minutes of being uncomfortable in order to spend two hours in class or at work without needing to fight off sweat or the sleepies.

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Lingering Chill

There is a certain pleasure in hunkering down for the winter months in the cold, enduring Midwestern north. As the temperatures drop, the rain turns to sleet that turns normal stairs and sloping lawns into treacherous slides for those without adequate caution. Empty, grey days turn into cozy retreats as people turn from excusing their flight from the worsening weather to embracing it. Life goes on, as always, but the quiet moments that once demanded to be filled are now left empty save for rest and warmth, attention turned inward instead of outward. Homes become bastions of warmth and life, drifting and disconnected from the world around them save for the moments that they open up to share their light with those daring enough to still travel between them.

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Wisconsin Winter Preparations

I have lived many winters without ever needing to put plastic insulation over my windows. If this sentence makes no sense to you, well, congratulations on not living in shitty or old apartment or house in a frigid midwestern or generally northern US state. Or, you know, anywhere else in the world where the outside doesn’t get so cold in the winter that it can leech through every exterior surface of your dwelling to steal every drop of warmth you posses but also so warm in the summer that an unattended egg can cook in thirty minutes of sunlight or less.

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Snowy Tow

The snow came down, coating trees and drifting into mounds beside the road. Rosie didn’t think every drift had a car in it, like the one she was looking at, but the thought pressed on her as she tried to focus.

It was a simple job. Wait for calls on snowy nights and then drive the truck into the snow to rescue unfortunate drivers. This was probably her last call of the night. Once 3 a.m. rolled around, it was someone else’s turn.

After checking with the driver, she towed the car onto the road. Ten minutes of work and talking and the driver was on their way again. As she sat in her car and filled out the last bit of paperwork, her attention kept drifting to the mounds of snow. She’d lived around here all her life. She knew the fields down route 44 were lousy with heavy bushes and hills, but something kept pulling her eyes to the sea of white.

She set the clipboard aside, bundled up, and waded into the snow. It was up to her shins, but a particular mound kept calling to her. She walked up to it and started digging with her hands.

Twenty minutes later, she was back in her truck, driving. It had been only snow over a large bush. As she rounded a bend, looking for the county route home, she got a call. There was someone else who needed to be pulled out on route 44. Dispatch sent her back out, even though her shift was over, since she was close.

She turned the truck around and started looking for a car in the snow. She spotted it a few minutes later and smiled, despite herself. She’d been right about the drift, just half an hour early.

Melancholy

Rainy grey days and soft muted nights,
Fog in the trees obscuring the lights
Of passing cars and the lone street lamp
As the world revels in the wet and the damp.

The quick pit-patter of dripping rain
Against the roof and window pane,
The bend and sway of leaf and tree,
The storm-blown scratch of spring debris,
The susurrus of water on grass
As the clouds roil, break, and pass.

A hint of loam and earthy strength,
A touch of fresh that runs the length,
Something new to mark the year
As the scent rides wind far and near.

The cold pin-prick of rain on skin
To mark the storm will now begin,
The deep chill gust that cuts to bone
And leaves stout souls to walk alone,
All hint of warmth retreats from hearts
As the skies open and the rain starts.

Unlit grey rooms and seats to rest
By windows with forehead pressed,
A crack to pull in rain-soaked air
And a blanket warm waiting near,
Silence reigns loud to give the storm
Ample room to sooth and perform
For those who watch and wish to be
Nothing more than melancholy.

 

NaNoWriMo Day 22 (11/22)

The disastrous foil to all my plans has arrived and left me struggling to keep going. My cold is lingering and while it isn’t that bad (I can still think just fine and I’m not running a fever or anything), the constant popping of my ears, croaky voice, and over-full sinuses are uncomfortable enough to make focus nearly unattainable. Yesterday, even though my symptoms were worse, I could medicate through them and be fine, if rather tired. No such luck today. Today I can’t get them to abate at all.

I was actually going to write the rest of this post about whether I was too sick to write properly or if I was just using it as a convenient and convincing excuse to avoid trying to write today (and possibly even as an excuse to try finishing the my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo) but I couldn’t get the paragraphs to make sense. It’s pretty clear I’m too sick to coherently evaluate my options which means reason gets thrown out the door and all that’s left is emotion/desire.

After checking in with those two, it was really nice to find out that I was going to feel sad if I didn’t write today and even more sad (at the lost opportunity, not at a perceived failure) if I didn’t at least try to finish on time. This was matched by an intense desire to just write anyway because it’s not like I need it to make a lot of sense right now anyway. I just need to get the words out right now.

If I’m too incoherent to lose what little focus I’ve got, then I can probably just disconnect my computer from the internet and leave my comic books and video games downstairs. It’s not like I’m feeling restless or anything. I’d be perfectly content to sit in this chair (well, a more comfortable version of this chair) until I no longer felt sick, so I might as well write while I’m waiting. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.

 

Daily Prompt

There are a lot of things we do not like or enjoy doing and would never consider doing every day for the rest of our lives or having as our main source of income. At the same time, there are often people out there who enjoy these things or find them fulfilling. For today’s prompt, have your character meet someone who enjoys doing something they extremely dislike and use the interaction as an opportunity to expand your character’s worldview.

 

Sharing Inspiration

Today’s inspiration is the wonderful composer, Theophany, who created these amazing re-orchestrations/remixes of some of the music from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that fully capture the various emotions that game carries into each moment. My favorite song from the so-far two-disc series  (Theophany released Disc 2 a year ago today, which was four years after the first disc) is The Clockworks. If you like The Legend of Zelda and beautiful music, you will love Time’s End and Time’s End II. I definitely recommend checking out the music and, if you like it, buying it from the artist. It’s an officially licensed album and set up with a “minimum $3” cost, so feel free to kick in a few extra dollars to support the next couple albums!

 

Helpful Tips

If you’re writing sequentially and can’t figure out what comes next in the story, try moving what is currently happening to a new place. Take the group of friends talking at a restaurant and have them go for a walk. If you change the scene, it can often lend itself toward new action or a new character’s introduction, both of which are great ways to move stories forward. Don’t worry about making it smooth or finding a good place for them to go or to be going to, but make the change and see what shakes out.