Sunday, October 21, 2007


It's snowing. Snowing, snowing, snowing. Average date of first snow here October 15, so I guess we're on time. It's windy, too, so the snow looks even worse whipping around in cottony swirls. I hope, though, that this isn't a harbinger of things to come. I will not survive another winter like last winter. It was beyond description--surreal conditions for weeks that brought my mood down to a low that seemed impossible to recover from.

The leaves are still on the trees--in my yard, the leaves haven't even turned color yet. So far, we've lost two tree branches (ouch!) plus our shade canopy, which just collapsed in a silent implosion an hour ago.

I wanted to go out today. I have errands to run, especially after the marathon work day I put in yesterday. Up at 5:00, at work before 7:00, facilitated a high-energy training for eight hours (yes, 8), cleaned up, stopped at Hobby Lobby. My feet hurt so badly, I felt like I couldn't make it to my car. I still wasn't able to fall asleep until 12:30 and woke up at 5:30 anyway. Stayed in bed until 7:40 just on principle.

My husband is the fucking heat Nazi, so I'm chilly to the point that my nose hurts. I am from hardy stock, but a 62-degree living room on a snowy day is more than a depression-prone, SAD-diagnosed, deeply fatigued woman should be forced to bear. Last year when something like this happened, I handed my husband a ten-dollar bill and told him to turn up the goddamn heat already. He sulked for a week. It's not that we can't afford to heat the house; my husband just likes to push the envelope in a competitive way to see how low we can go to win his mythic battle to champion energy efficiency. Fuck that.

In 1973, my parents bought a newly constructed home just beyond the Philadelphia suburbs. We were off the gas grid, which meant all of the homes in the area had oil heat. The house was big and not all that well constructed. My parents had put every cent they had into this house, and frankly, it was a lot more house than they could afford. Then the oil crisis hit making prices soar, recession barreled through the U.S., and inflation was the highest in decades. Something had to give, and so it was the heat. The thermostat was my mother's domain, and we were forbidden to touch it. If we complained of the cold, she'd snap back, "Put on another sweater."

At night, my mother turned the temperature down to 52 degrees--just enough to maintain a safe temperature in the baseboard hot water heat lines. During the day, it was set at a brisk 55. Mornings were painful for me. I don't mean they were unpleasant or uncomfortable--I mean, I felt pain and unhappiness into my core. I swore that when I had my own place, I would never be cold. Unfortunately, I'm married to someone who is obsessed with automating everything to the point that I can't figure out what the hell to do to initiate a manual override. What makes people do this? I don't mean to abuse the environment or to upset the perfection of a meticulously programmed thermostat, but I'm turning up the heat. There has to be something available to me to make a crappy, cold, snowy day tolerable. I refuse to put on another sweater.

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