The Best Laid Plans: A Winter Getaway That Bombed

The weather in Chicago made even the most optimistic of souls cranky, tired and ready to move to Tahiti.  Full disclosure: I detest winter: the cold, the dark, short days.  Around October (sometimes, earlier) I start fretting about what’s to come.  I try my best to enjoy the day I’m in, but it can be a tall order.

This year was no different.  Earlier than usual–around the end of November–my seasonal affective depression began to kick in.  I found myself wanting to hit the sack no later than 9:30 and had to push myself to stay awake any longer.  My energy level sank like the Titanic.  The walls were closing in, and that there was no escape.  In truth, the only thing that prevented me from doing or saying something I’d come to regret was the fact that my husband and I had sixty-five days and counting before beating a path to Mexico for two months.

Yes, I hear you:  What the heck is she complaining about?   She has a get-out-of-jail card.  Lucky her.  If I had her problems (as my dear father used to say), I’d be taking golf lessons.

I understand.  I really do.  But I’ve worked hard to have the flexibility and, yes, hard earned money to get the hell out of Dodge.  

Here it is a matter of days before Xmas, and there is not a snowflake of snow on the ground.  The sun is doing its hide-and-seek game of flirting with light and then cruelly thrusting us back into gray.  

That was not the case a few weeks back.  There was no in and out.  Only out.  I meditated on being a bear, warm and toasty in my lair of hibernation.  Not a chance.  I was destined to complain and, oh, yes, suffer.

I had to get away.  My husband and I did our due diligence and researched cheap flights to somewhere warm.  Top two cities on the list: Tuscon and Miami.  The former sounded like a cultural wasteland; the latter had been a yearly stomping ground for years when my parents lived in Florida.  Since they’ve passed away, we have not returned.

“How about New Orleans?  Let’s check the weather there.”

Not exactly the Caribbean but warm and sunny enough.  (Besides, I haven’t worn a bathing suit in maybe five years.)  

“Yes, let’s go to New Orleans.  Great food (I’m back on Weight Watchers), wonderful music, warm and  welcoming people.

Yep, let’s skip town and head to the Big Easy.

We slam dunked a round-trip fare that normally would get us from Chicago to Detroit.  Booked a fairly inexpensive guest house.  Packed light jackets and a sweater or two.  Who needs layers in sunny, 60+ degree weather?

We did!  “Oh, you should have been here last week end,” they said.  

Little consolation.  We froze our butts off and, aside from one somewhat sunny day, endured chill and rain.  (We did take umbrellas.)  Still, a getaway to warmer climes it was not.  In some ways, it was even more depressing than in Chicago where friends didn’t hesitate to tell us that the sun had not stopped shining.  

Is there a lesson here somewhere?  Do we begin to realize that the grass is not always . . . Oh, crap!  I hope that’s not the takeaway.   Are the gods admonishing us for not sticking it out come rain or shine.  (Oh, brother.)  Or love the one you’re with?  I don’t know: nothing clicks.  

The good news?  It’s sunny and warm enough with lots of layers to take a few steps outside.  I’m going for a walk.

Who Celebrates the Winter Solstice? I DO!

The countdown has begun.  Actually, it began the day after the summer solstice when sun worshipers like me celebrated the longest day of the year and then, with a gut punch, realized that it was all downhill from there.

Now, I’m not talking about the Miami Beach-style sun worshiper who slathers her body with sun lotion, lugs her beach chair next to the pool, and sizzles like bacon until the sun dives down behind the high-rise apartments that line Collins Avenue.

No, I’m talking about the worshiper who wakes up in the morning as the sun begins to burn a slice of empty space under a closed bedroom window shade—who revels in the promise of unlimited possibilities and the boundless energy to follow one’s fancy wherever it may lead.

There are “only” nineteen shopping days until Christmas and FIFTEEN days left until the winter solstice— the shortest, often darkest day of the year.

Okay, I can hear some of you out there mumbling about how I shouldn’t be so focused on the outer world at a time ready-made for exploring the depths of my inner world—a world rumored to be rich with golden nuggets waiting to be mined.  (In fact, my yoga teacher basically pitched me this line last night.  I patted her on the back, said I expected said response but that, as far as I was concerned, it was a bunch of  bull—-.)  I have plenty of time on my hands when the sun shines to dive into my thoughts.

I don’t know where you live but, here in the Chicago area, we haven’t seen the sun for more than a total of twenty minutes in over a week.  I wilt a bit more each day.  With a modicum of hope, I check the weather on my iPad every morning and, to date, all I see are symbols for clouds, maybe even little snowflake icons.  And it’s only the beginning of December!

Hence, the countdown until the winter solstice and the subsequent increase in daytime hours.  Apparently, I’m not the only one who celebrates the Big Day.  Check out the Time article.  It’s a stitch.  People do some crazy stuff that day.  “In Japan, people traditionally soak in hot baths with the yuzu citrus fruit to welcome the winter solstice and protect their bodies from the common cold.”  Thousands visit England’s famous Stonehenge to “sing, dance, play instruments, kiss the stones and do yoga as they wait for the sun to rise.”

http://time.com/5060889/winter-solstice-rituals/

Maybe I’ll reenact my own Stonehenge.  Dance around the frozen grass and crumpled leaves in what was only two months ago a bouquet of fall colors.  Bundle up and head to Lake Michigan, stand on the rocks and do a few sun salutations.  Sneak over to my neighbor’s hot tub, pull off the cover and jump in.

Hail to the end of the descent and the beginning, albeit a crawl, of longer, sunnier days.

 

 

 

New Words & Phrases Have Infiltrated Our Daily Conversations

 

 

Maybe it’s my status as a senior.  Maybe it’s my waning attention span.  Or maybe, just maybe, there are changes in the words and phrases we use (well, not all of us) that have infiltrated our daily conversations.

Just yesterday, misinformation was crowned Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year.  Gee, I wonder why.  While the word has been around since the late 1500s, it made a huge comeback this year as the amount of false information on the internet expanded.  (Why limit this phenomenon to the internet?  Why, indeed?)  Every day, we are bombarded on cable news shows, newspapers, speeches with misinformation.  As the folks at Dictionary.com made abundantly clear, misinformation is not the same as disinformation.  The latter is deliberate, often propaganda.  Misinformation is stuff that people spread, sometimes innocently.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/26/us/misinformation-dictionary-word-of-the-year-2018-trnd/index.html

Here’s another example of a phrase that has wiggled its way into daily conversations.  “You as well.” Back in the day when you wished a person a “Good day,” the common response was “Thank you” or “You, too.”  No more.  Today, it’s “You as well.”

“Have a good day.”

“You as well.”

“Enjoy the movie.”

“You as well.”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to a salesperson, a young friend, a consumer associate—”You as well” has usurped the basic “You, too.”

Granted, the latter does sound more erudite, more á la the King’s English—more like the way characters on the BBC converse.  But I don’t believe for a second that the people using this expression have spent time in Great Britain or have earned graduate degrees.

Every time someone responds to my polite wishes for a good day with a “You as well,” I stop in my tracks and wonder where the hell this came from.  Not us Baby Boomers, that’s for sure.  Millennials?  (Those born between 1981 and 1996.)  Those rascals seem to be changing everything else, so why not common words and expressions?

Here’s another one of my pet peeves when it comes to the words we use.  Have you noticed how the word right is thrown around and ends many a declarative sentence?

“Trump is a liar.  Right?”

“The meeting is tomorrow.  Right?”

“The country is divided.  Right?”

The word begs for affirmation.  It’s as if the speaker isn’t sure about what he/she/they is saying and needs others to shake their head in agreement or to respond verbally.  This “right?” business unnerves me, particularly when the speaker obviously knows what he/she/they is saying. (Maybe it’s the influence of the millions of U.S. citizens who speak Spanish.  After all, many Latinos end their sentences with “Si?”)

I’ll keep you posted when the next word or phrase infiltrates our daily speech and makes me want to scream.  And, yes, please send me a comment with any suggestions.

“Have a good day.”

“You as well.”