Cooler than cool/ICE COLD
The past week has been really cold here, like single-digits-going-into-the-negatives-with-the-wind-chill cold. I’m from Oklahoma, where winter may be 30 one day and 72 the next, so while I’ve felt cold before, I’ve never really felt cold consistently, and as I’ve recently learned, I haven’t ever felt real cold. The other night I realized my hands were so cold they actually smelled like death. This is a strange new world to me.
I’m not complaining, though—one of the reasons I moved was to experience a proper winter, and make use of all the coats I owned, which seemed a bit silly when living in a state that shared a border with Texas. But learning to adapt to this new level of cold has taken some careful planning, which basically amounts to Staying Inside and then Attempting to Spend Winter in the Bathtub. Both of these plans work, but only to a degree, and I doubt I’ll be able sustain either of them in long stretches.
I don’t mind the cold at all when I’m out walking around, because I’m wearing my coat and hat and scarf and gloves, plus, you know, walking. It’s really the going to sleep part that’s getting me. I’ve never been one of those people who complains about being cold; instead, I’m almost always too warm. I’ve always worn just a T-shirt to bed, regardless of the season, and when I had a ceiling fan, I never turned it off. However, sleeping on the floor near a drafty window in New York in January when it’s -6 outside has meant some significant changes to my bedtime routine.
1) Walk home from the bar. Hopefully you drank enough to sustain the cold on the walk home. It’s hard being broke and achieving this first crucial step, so I also recommend staying at home and drinking wine and watching MST3K with people whose company you enjoy.
2) Before you even remove your coat, go immediately to the bathroom and run a scalding hot bubble bath. The bubbles aren’t really necessary, but they tend to cushion the severity of the burn.
3) Wait until the last possible minute to remove all of your clothing.
4) Step into the tub. Try not to wake up your roommates when you scream.
5) Once your brain has stopped registering the pain and lulled you into a state where you think you’re used to the water, it is now safe to read. It’s important to keep as much of your body submerged as possible, though, so only one hand is allowed. I’ve become remarkably proficient at turning the pages with my nose or chin.
6) You will eventually become uncomfortable, and begin to sweat a little. Stay in the bath for at least 10 minutes after this happens.
7) Warning: once you get out of the bath, you’ll be hot, and tempted not to put on your sleepwear right away. YOU MUST OVERRIDE THIS DECISION. Get out, dry off, apply copious amounts of body lotion, and then put on your pajamas. If you’re me, this now means knee socks, ski socks, fleece pants, T-shirt and sweatshirt. (You have to recognize how huge this is for me. I HATE sleeping in pants.)
8) I prefer to keep my knit gloves and hat next to my bed, since I like to put them on only after I’ve applied my lip balm; you may feel differently.
9) Get into bed immediately, while you’re still warm. No reading or writing or talking on the phone. Fall asleep as quickly as possible.
The only thing keeping this plan from being foolproof for me is my leaking inflatable bed, which wakes me up about every 2 hours when I have to push the button to reinflate. Sometimes this wakes me up enough to register the cold too, so the moral of this story is the same of every other story lately: I need to get a fucking job so I can afford to ship my real bed here.