Handling the cold of winter is definitely not my favorite thing. House-bound more than usual, creaky in every joint, hounded by a nagging cough that sounds like the barking of a dog who is 140 in dog years and about to die, I just don’t love this time of year. And in Texas, we don’t even get pretty white snow to use as a distraction.
You see me here with my long Gandalf hair and my bristly author’s beard. I have been furiously writing about werewolves and naked teenage girls. But don’t get excited. It is not a sexy sort of thing. Rather, it’s a comedy about feeling monstrous because of physical and emotional differences you have no control over, and, of course, prejudice against those who are different. So I am keeping my head warm in cold weather by thinking too much.
There is evidence all around me of this. I have so much indoor time on my hands due to weather that I am caught up in silly old man ideas and obsessions.
I am taking pictures of frost patterns for cartoonish reasons.
I can’t help but spend time on the computer doing things like making use of the vast storehouse of useless knowledge that I keep in a back room inside my head.
It seems I am rather good at it, too. Who knew that a life spent as a teacher would make you into the sort of Jeopardy genius that could earn a million dollars on a show that you will never ever have a chance to get on, and if, by some miracle, you did, you would get a first round question about the atomic weight of molybdenum and you’d say, “What is 42?” because that is the element’s atomic number (and the answer to life, the universe, and everything) instead of 95.94, the correct answer, which you knew, but you got nervous and went for the jokier answer.
And, of course, I can’t help but reflect on what I am missing out on as an ESL teacher, teaching English to kids who speak Vietnamese, Mandarin, Spanish, Farsi, and Tigrinya. The world of languages that are not our own is fascinating, as well as frustrating. We live in a time when communicating with others is the most critical life skill we could have, especially since the world is now run primarily by stupid people, and the evil people who love them.
This old man is scaring me. And he has nuclear weapons.
So, I struggle through the winter of 2017-2018 with layers of old sweaters, jackets, undershirts and long-johns. And I am not lovin’ it. But I am keeping my head warm.