In Which I Might Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

This winter has been pretty rough so far. Fall was great – just married, just graduated, new job, new apartment, and life was an adventure! When December hit, it was Christmas time! Yay, Christmas! Winter! Snow! Hot chocolate! A violent sledding incident! Fun and joy and grand winter adventures!

And then Christmas was over, and I pretty much just wanted to move to New Mexico. I don’t like being cold. And I really don’t like being cold for extended periods of time. I don’t really like being inside for extended periods of time, either – but it’s better than being cold.

On top of that, we’ve discovered that “cold” to me is nearly synonymous with “dark.” As in, it can be 80 degrees outside, but when the sun goes down, I start shivering, no matter what the temperature is. Uncontrollably shivering. I also get instantly tired when it gets dark. And the days are even darker in a basement apartment. So this winter, I’ve spent a lot of time being cold and tired and socially isolated.

I kind of thought this was normal until my husband started talking about how much he loved the winter. And even then, I just said to myself, “Well, winter’s his favorite season. He must love being cold.” And then a few days ago, I told somebody his favorite season was winter and he corrected me: he likes summer best. He just also likes winter. How can this be? I thought. They’re complete opposites!

We’ve been considering for a while that I might have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is basically a type of depression that comes on every year in the same season (usually winter.) I hadn’t considered it too seriously before, because I hadn’t considered it too serious a problem. Doesn’t everyone spend early January figuring out how much it would cost to pick up and move to Southern California? Doesn’t everybody slow down and reluctantly drag themselves out of bed when it’s cold outside?

Apparently not.  I think the turning point was yesterday, when I was having a bad day, I was sick to my stomach, and I didn’t want to get off the couch. So I didn’t. I sat on the couch for a few hours, tried to do a 1000-piece puzzle, gave up after about 100 pieces, then burst into tears over a facebook post. Ethan helped me calm down, then gently suggested we see a doctor.

I don’t really want to take medication – but seeing a doctor doesn’t mean taking drugs. It means seeking professional advice. It took me a while to wrap my head around that. But we’re discussing the options we’ve got (for free!) on campus, and if we need to, we’ll even swallow the co-pay and go somewhere else. At this point, I’m getting myself through the winter on orange juice, nachos, some exercise, and happy thoughts. I need to increase my arsenal. ♦



Breaking and Entering

No Trespassing Violators will be shot survivors will be shot again

You wouldn’t think breaking and entering would be a handy skill-set for an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. There were several times as a missionary when I accidentally locked me and my companion outside our upstairs apartment, and we had to climb in through our kitchen window. Have you ever scaled a roof in a skirt? It’s an adventure, I assure you.

A week ago, our upstairs neighbor Josh knocked on our door. He was dressed in a full suit (I’m still not sure why), and he’d locked himself out. All his roommates were with family for Christmas break.  After he and my husband tested all the windows, Josh decided it wasn’t worth the effort and just kicked in the front door. My husband had to do the same thing a few days later, when Josh forgot to leave the door to the laundry room unlocked for us.

And then, last night, Ethan got out of the car and looked at me thoughtfully. He felt all his pockets, thought for a second, and said, “I locked the keys in the apartment.” I was being a minimalist, and had not brought my purse along. We were locked out in freezing weather. Hooray! Adventure! I’m not going to detail how we got in (lest any would-be home invaders or pranksters read this blog), but one ice scraper, a few pieces of firewood, a long plastic spoon, a twisted piece of metal, and a rather tight squeeze through a window later, we were inside once again, warming our fingers and toes. We are apparently skilled intruders.

I hope this doesn’t become a pattern. And I hope our children don’t use the family talent for illegal purposes. I’m worried enough about them using it against their parents: the closet’s locked? Now it’s not! The bathroom door’s locked? Open! Christmas presents locked in the shed? No problem! The bedroom door’s locked? Not anymore…  ♦

A Sledding Mishap


Ethan is a penguin. It starts snowing outside, and he starts jumping up and down a little bit. His fingers start twitching, and he starts glancing toward the corner we keep the sled in.

Needless to say, this past week has been snowy – and therefore, my husband has been anxious to get bundled up and go hurtling down the mountainside. I’m not really a fan of the cold, but throwing my body down a hill at 40 mph on an untrustworthy plastic dish is an entirely different story. I’m in.

So yesterday we headed south to a really great sledding park I went to last year. Turned down the street… turned around, turned down another street… turned around, turned down a street… looped around and admired all the identical town-homes…

Eventually, we gave up on finding the park and just went up to Rock Canyon Park, where everybody else goes. It meant sharing the park, but it also meant the snow was packed down by previous sledders – more painful to fall, but way faster to sled on.  Oh, life was good.

We went down once together, got showered with snow, biffed it, and laughed. Then we found a ramp somebody made, with a good frozen grassy slope leading up to it. Ethan went down. Biffed it. Laughed. I went down.

Now, that hill was pretty steep. And I don’t know if you’ve ever used one of those little round saucer sleds, but let’s just say they’re all about speed and not in any way about control. So the point at which I struck the ramp was right about when I hit mach 5, legs facing south, just a little terrified. I caught air and flew about 4500 feet straight up, watching my sled fly in the opposite direction, and did a graceful aerial with my limbs outstretched. I landed – legs facing north – on my face, which slid a few feet before the rest of my body followed and rolled down the hill. It was certainly a triumph of human dignity and grace.

I lay there a moment, face down, taking mental inventory of my body. All accounted for except my face. I raised my head and held it above the snow for a few seconds. No blood on the snow. This was a good sign. At the top of the hill, Ethan was laughing and nervously asking if I was okay.

Trouble is, it was about 9 degrees outside. So my face was wet, cold, and completely numb. I had absolutely no idea how much of a face I actually had. At least whatever was left wasn’t bleeding. I tried to give a thumbs-up sign before climbing up the hill, but my lips were swollen and cold, and I didn’t want to try to speak. Ethan met me halfway up the hill, worried about me, but we took a quick inventory and discovered that my face was still attached, just scratched up a bit.

We went home pretty soon after that, so I can’t really pretend to have achieved any sledding prowess yet this year, but I’m glad I started off the winter with a good scrape and some fantastic air time. Let’s hope my next sledding adventure lasts a bit longer – and hurts a bit less. ♦


Old Man Winter and I

Hibernation makes perfect sense to me.

It’s not that I fear the cold. I know I have a coat. I have a warm house to come back into. I have a warm car. It’s probably not cold enough to actually cause me harm unless I stay out for hours on end in a tank top and shorts. I just don’t like it.

I think of Old Man Winter kind of like a really weird roommate.

And not the happy, crazy kind of weird. I’m talking about the kind of weird that eats bowls of ice cream with ketchup while sitting on the sofa intently watching Richard Simmons sweat to the Oldies. I’m talking about the kind of weird that calls your mom Gladys (when your mom’s name is Naomi) and calls her up every now and then to make sure she knows your diet hasn’t been very nutritious lately. I’m talking about the kind of weird that sets an alarm to wake up at 2 in the morning to go and peel the celery. The kind of weird that makes you walk into the room, see that she’s there, and then back out of the room before she notices you’re home.

That’s how I feel about cold weather.

My first reaction is usually, “Oh, no, It’s here,” followed up with, “Why? Why is it cold? Why do I live in a place that makes me feel like this every winter? Why haven’t I moved to New Mexico?” It has its moments. It makes for a festive Christmas. It’s very pretty in the snow. But there’s still a part of me that just looks out the window and wonders if there will ever be a comfortable time to go outside again. I’m not afraid of the cold – I’m just… awkward… about it.

Which is why I rather like the thought of hibernation. It’s like saying, “Oh. Winter. I’m not sure I like you. But you’re leaving – so I’ll just wait for you to leave. And while I’m waiting, here’s a pillow and a sandwich.” Now, what’s uncomfortable about that? Absolutely nothing.

Maybe I should just go get some snow pants and a spine. Or maybe I just need a sandwich and a pillow. Or maybe I should cancel that plane ticket to New Mexico… ♦

A Shout-out to Mom

This is my mom.

Clearly, she’s fantastic. She encourages me to do things like study, clean, run with scissors, and cover the neighbors’ car with monkey vinyl clings. I consider her an excellent influence on me.

Last week (and really, for most of this winter), I was kind of bummed. I wanted sunshine. And I think she could tell.

So today, I picked up a package from the office, only to find it packed with as much sunshine as my mother could fit in a box. Sun detergent. Sunchips. Sunflower seeds – chocolate-covered and otherwise. A can of baby corn that had the word “sun” somewhere in the brand name.

And, you know what? The sun came out today! Coincidence? I think not!

Thanks, Mom. You always know what to do. 

Slip Slidin’ Away

This morning, we had an ice storm. I’ve never seen one of these before in my life, and I’ve never heard of it in Utah, but here it was. We’ve had snow on the ground for weeks, but this morning it rained and then promptly froze. Martha warned me this morning that it was icy outside, but I was in a hurry and I was running late to class.

I quickly decided that it wasn’t worth the rush. After about 10 minutes, I had made it across the street and was skating my way across the gym parking lot. Every step I took, I kept praying, “Dear Lord, please send some kind soul with a car.” I held out hope for some gallant gentleman who would offer to drive me to class and spare me the 2 hours it would surely take to get to campus at the rate I was shuffling along.

I was on the phone with my dad, telling him how ridiculous the weather was, when I heard honking behind me. Excited, I whirled around – and off of my feet, landing on my backside and my left elbow. My phone flew, my book-bag fell, and I looked up to see the world’s greatest bus driver, signalling me to hop in. As I stepped into the bus, he asked, “Are you okay?” I said yes, and the whole bus erupted into laughter. Apparently, they had been holding it in until they knew I wasn’t hurt. I don’t blame them for laughing, though; our heroic driver picked up every foolish pedestrian along the route, free of charge, and the whole thing really was hilarious to watch. If you’d like to see a sample of the new Provo penguin shuffle, check it out here

In Which I Am Defeated by a Vending Machine

I’m struggling.

Remember how hard I’m trying to like winter?

Well, I’m struggling.

This morning, as I was walking to school, I caught myself fantasizing about a road trip to New Mexico. I don’t really know anything about New Mexico. But I know it’s warmer than it is here. I had no sights to see, and no particular reason to head south. I don’t know anybody who would want to come with me, and I don’t know anything about the accommodations. But as I calculated the budget for this trip in my head, the only real deterrent I found was the realization that it would take me several months to earn the money to buy a junker car – and by that time, it would be warm here again. I abandoned my scheme.

I’m also getting hungry frequently. And by frequently, I mean every few minutes. My boss says that it takes a lot more energy to stay warm in the winter, so you have to eat more. But we’re talking one “Superman” taco from Taco Bell (think: everything you love, all on a huge tortilla) and then ten minutes later, I’m trying to decide whether to run back for another one. After eating a few cookies. All of this an hour after lunch from Subway.

Chocolate milk is keeping me from slipping into total cold-weather depression. I stopped at a vending machine tonight (only a few hours after the huge taco and cookies) for a chocolate milk, and found myself unable to decide between Sun Chips (food of the gods) and chocolate milk (nectar of the gods). In time, I decided on the Sun Chips, because I’ve had nearly a gallon of chocolate milk in the past few days, and I decided on something healthy.

And the chips didn’t vend.

I saw them hanging there, stuck on the corner of another bag, and I remembered the wise words of my professor this morning: “Remember the Fonz? He always just bumped things, and they worked.” I bumped it. The chips stayed. I banged my fist against it. They didn’t budge. I proceeded to wail on the vending machine like a small percussion ensemble, wondering all the while if the woman in the hallway behind me was worried for her life. The chips defied me. Defeated, I reached into my wallet and pulled out another dollar. I could save one bag for tomorrow, as long as I got my chips.

The second bag still didn’t vend.

By now, I was beginning to mutter dangerously under my breath. A second percussive wailing ensued, and the girl behind me was definitely trying to appear invisible, in case I began to lash out at more animate objects. Defeated (and with a bruised right hand), I took my double-priced bag of chips, hung my head, and started back for the break room.

I was so sad, I had to buy a bottle of chocolate milk on the way out.

Does anybody with a car want to go to New Mexico with me?