Friday, September 28, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Every Season

The end of summer always makes me cranky.  Summer is my favorite season and I resent the intrusion of fall.  I resent that people act like it's the greatest thing ever to see fall arrive.  There is almost this esoteric essence that people believe in about fall.  I don't really hate it, as I jokingly say I do, but I will continue to trumpet the reality that it isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But what of other seasons?  Do I like any other seasons?  Do I really hate fall?  Is summer really that perfect?

I decided to enumerate exactly what I love and hate about every season.  Which one is the best?  You decide.*


Since it's my favorite season, I thought I would start with it.

What I like about summer:

I like being able to undress.  I love wearing sundresses and shorts and tank tops and sandals with fun pedicures.  Maybe it's not the most flattering look on my chubby body, but since everyone else is undressed too, it's not a big deal.  We're all in the same boat.

I love that it's always warm enough to swim.  Yes, indoor pools exist so I can swim all year, but indoor pools have humid, swampy air, too much chlorine that stings your eyes even when you're not in the water, and unless you're at a very upscale resort or spa, are usually ugly and utilitarian.  No indoor pool will ever compare to plunging into the rolling ocean or crystal clear lake on a hot day.  I love the sensation of the water cooling my body and then coming out of the water to feel the sun gently warm me back up again. I love how the sun looks on the water - how it sparkles and shimmers - even when it's just dappling the surface of an ordinary swimming pool.  I remember one afternoon while swimming at the pool in my old apartment, I found myself repeatedly diving in just to experience how beautifully the sun was hitting the surface in one spot on my ascent to the air.  I could never live in a climate that's cool all year round because I need temperatures that are warm enough for outdoor swimming.

I love how relaxed the heat makes me feel.  In the summer heat I can sit quietly and feel my body just sort of melt into oblivion.

Summer is the time of happy occasions like my birthday and my annual trip to Chincoteague.  

What I don't like about summer

Bugs!  Creepy crawly critters of all kinds invade the barn.  Mosquitoes dominate in Chincoteague.  Summer is prime insect season.

Then there is humidity.  New York is not the deep south, so I know it's not the worst humidity in the world, but New York is humid much of the year.  In fact it rains a third of the year on average.  Summer is the worst of it though.  As a woman with naturally curly hair, it can mean an endless stream of bad hair days.

I will admit occasionally the weather is too hot even for my taste.  Two summers ago I remember the temps being consistently over 100 degrees for two weeks and it was torture being outside.  I was lucky enough to be in Chincoteague one of those weeks and had my beloved ocean to cool off in  Heat also makes the horses lethargic.


What I like about fall

The colors are lovely.  When you're in a semi-rural area on weekends and see woods wherever you go, the sense of wonder and beauty can be overwhelming.  I love photograhing sunlight as it filters through multicolored leaves.

The cooler weather does make the horses more energetic.

What I don't like about fall

The traffic going is following me right to that rural area for all those leaf-peeping and apple-picking activities.  Sunday nights on the Tappan Zee Bridge are a nightmare.

It's dark.  I thrive in sunlight.  It seems once the equinox hits, the days grow shorter rapidly.  Once Daylight Saving Time ends, it's utterly dismal.  

It's cold.  Yes, there are some lovely cool-ish days where it's not too hot for outdoor activities, but it still warm enough that you don't feel cold, but they don't last that long. 

The month of November.  Really, is there anything redeeming about that month other than Thanksgiving (which is almost December anyway)?  The beautiful leaves have fallen.  Everything is dead.  Death and decay are all around you.  Days grow horribly short as Daylight Saving Time ends. Weather turns cold - even cold enough to snow sometimes.  I believe that most people who say they love fall really love September and October.  They don't really mean cold, dark, dead November.

Then there is the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored everything.  Gross!


There isn't much nice to say about winter, but I'll try.

What I like about winter

Winter starts with Christmas.  I love the winter holidays.  I love the (good) music.  I love the decor.  I love the gifts.  I love the gatherings with friends and family.  Yes, I know that Christmas happens all over the world, even where winter isn't very wintry, but I have that esoteric, Dickensian, White-Christmas kind of warm fuzzies from cold snowy winter holidays.  It's that sort of esoteric feeling people have about fall.  I used to go to Florida at Christmas time and seeing holiday lights on palm trees is just not the same.  It doesn't feel right.

Sometimes being snowed in can make for a pleasant day.  It gives me a day where I have no excuse but to do some housecleaning.  I catch up on my blog reading.  I do some heavy-duty baking. 

Watching snow fall out the window is extremely relaxing.

The days are short, but they are growing longer.  Once the end of January comes, I start to notice a light in the sky when I come home from work.  It's a much more hopeful feeling than than the dismal decline into darkness that is fall.

What I don't like about winter

I already covered the darkness thing with fall, but even as winter days grow longer, it's still pretty dark.

I really really really hate the cold.  That's my main reason for hating winter.  I firmly believe that anyone who says, "I'd rather be too cold than too hot," is either someone who has lived his life in a cold climate, is a ski buff, or truly doesn't know what it's like to be too cold.  How many non-skiers out there really know what it's like to be cold? Most of us spend very little time outdoors in the winter.  We run across the cold driveway to the cold garage to get into the warm car to drive to work. We get to work and have a cold sprint to the door.  Maybe we go outside and play with the kids for an hour in the snow. We don't have time to get cold.

I spend hours of the day out in the cold.  It's true that when you're active you warm up.  Unfortunately, when you stop being quite so active your body cools down and it cools down fast.  Once that happens, it's really hard to be warm again.  "Just add another layer," you say.  What happens when you eventually run out of layers but you still feel cold.  When I'm cold I can't relax.  In the heat I can sit or lie still and just go with it.  In the cold every muscle I have is tensed.  The worst is the extremities.  There is no torture quite like painfully cold hands and feet.  If you're trapped in this type of situation for any length of time, it's just unbearable.  You understand quite quickly that it's much more comfortable to be hot than to be cold. (As long as you have some form of shade of course.  Sunburn is no fun - but then again, neither is frostbite.)

Traveling is a pain.  Driving is no fun in snow and ice and I have to drive 140 miles each day most weekends.  Commuting to work can be really painful if cold causes train delays.  Waiting for the train in the cold in uncomfortable and then I get smooshed into a crowded train filled with two trainloads of commuters. 


What I like about spring

Once the equinox happens, the days are longer than the nights.  You start feeling and noticing the lengthening days. 

Life renews and rejuvenates itself.  Trees grow buds and flowers bloom.  The world starts to look pretty again.

I love those warm spring days that promise better weather ahead. 

What I hate about spring

I hate the disappointment of it.  I keep waiting and hoping for those warm, sunny, spring days, but they are often few and far between.  April and May are often just chilly and rainy.  Snow is not unheard of. Sometimes a week of beautiful days will come along and I'll think spring has finally arrived, only to have everything turn cold and rainy a week later. 

The horses start shedding.  It makes a terrible, hairy mess.

So there you have it.  That's why I can't live in a climate that's the same all year round.  It seems I do derive pleasure from the seasons.  I'm just going to have complaints about every season no matter what.

* Just kidding! I decide and you agree with me as it should be.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hair Apparent?

I remember a time when any little thought that came into my head was cause for a blog.  My old MySpace blog was updated almost daily.  Now it seems Shipwrecked & Comatose is more political rants than anything else.  I don't mean for that to happen really.   I suppose the more trivial stuff is best expressed in a few Facebook soundbites.  I don't want Facebook to kill my blog though.  I need the writing practice.

So today's trivial topic is hair.  I'm getting my hair cut in two days.  What should I do with it?

I haven't changed my hair much in the past two decades.  I have taken to wearing it long for a few reasons.  The first is that being a dramatic type I love the over-the-top look of my naturally big hair.  It makes a statement to have this cascade of raven ringlets.  It's also about practicality.  I need to be able to tie my hair back when I ride or work out (or I'm just having a bad hair day). I could go back to wearing my hair super-short, as I did in high school, but that requires a lot of maintenance (very regular haircuts).  Even short I would still have to deal with my hair being a frizzy poofball on humid days and I wouldn't be able to just slick it back.  (Super short is also dramatic though.)

For several years my preferred look was to wear bangs, blow them dry, and sweep them to the side.  The rest of my hair was mostly the same length.  This looked fine on good hair days, but when it was hot and humid, my bangs would sort of clump together in one big banana curl that hung down one side of my forehead.  I realized after a while the bangs would have to go.

I spent several more years doing long layers with a fairly sharp angle in the front.  My inspiration was Debra Messing, although I tended to think more of her in hear early, curly, Will and Grace years when asking for her cut.   Over time she began straightening her curls, and her style became less relevant to my hair.

At my last haircut, nearly a year ago, I decided I needed something new.  I searched for inspiration.  It came in an unlikely place.  I am not, and never was, a Sex in the City fan, but I happened to tune into it one dull afternoon while channel surfing.  I saw my inspiration right there.  Sarah Jessica Parker was sporting ringlets rather than a blowout that day.  Her hair was even brown rather than fake blonde or that weird, dark-rooted, half-blonde thing she often does.  The cut was perfect.

The problem was I couldn't find a picture of it.  Sarah Jessica Parker probably has more photos on the web than any other actress and yet no photo looked quite like the cut on that show.  I couldn't remember what the show was about, so I couldn't say, "I want the cut from the episode where SJP did so-and-so."  Even if I could, it wouldn't matter since my hair stylist never watched the show either.  I finally found a photo that was as close as it would come.

The hairdresser was shocked when I brought it in.  The cut was blunt and shoulder length. That's quite a change for me.  I wanted change.  I told her to go for it.  By the time my hair was cut and the curls had tightened up, my hair was actually above my shoulders.  It was quite a change, but I did like it, and received many compliments, so it wasn't a mistake.  I could still tie it back when I needed to.  After a few months I started to wonder if I wanted to cut it off again.  Should I stick with the shoulder-length cut?  If so, it was time for a haircut. 

Then along came Andie MacDowell.  She was my hair idol when I was in sporting the cropped look in high school.  I'd look at her hair wistfully and think, "If I grew my hair long, would it look like that?"  I was afraid to try for the longest time.  I couldn't bear to think of how long it would take to grow my hair out and it might not look good anyway.  Then I finally grew my hair out and MacDowell starting regularly sporting blowouts.  I was sort of angry.  I considered her a betrayer to her curly sisters.

So while I was contemplating trimming my hair to maintain the shorter cut, I once more was channel surfing on a dull afternoon and saw that some cable channel was starting up a new drama series starring Andie MacDowell.  In the coming attractions her hair was curly again.  I loved the cut.  I wanted it.  I realized that I had to find some photos of her in that show and wear that style.  The problem was that I would need to grow my hair out again.  It would take a few months to achieve the style I wanted.

So I didn't get a haircut for almost a year.  I grew it out.  What's the problem here?  I picked a cut, right?  I'm good to go for my next haircut.

The problem is I found another inspiration.

Kevin and I have become pretty big Dr. Who geeks in that past year.  You can't watch Dr. Who 10 or 11 without knowing about River Song.

River Song, aka Melody Pond,  is one of the most fascinating characters on the show. She is the daughter of 11's companions Amy and Rory.  She was conceived in the TARDIS, so she had inborn time lord power.  She was once able to regenerate and change form as The Doctor could.  Amy never realized her childhood friend "Mels" was her own daughter from the future. In one episode River sacrificed her regenerative powers to save The Doctor's life, so she's permanently in one form.  The Doctor met River for the first time on the day she died, but it was not the first time she met him.  Her past is his future.  We don't know yet how after River was stolen from Amy after her birth that she was able to join Amy as a schoolgirl and then ended up on a time continuum different from that of her mother and The Doctor.  It is an ongoing mystery. 

Of course none of that is relevant to this blog.  What about her is relevant?
Nice haircut, no?  My hair texture is very much like actress Alex Kingston's.  I could do this look pretty well I think.

Of course if I do cut my hair like this, all of those months I spent growing it out for the last haircut will be wasted.  This cut would be even shorter than my last cut. 

I was almost tempted to post a poll on Facebook asking my friends what haircut I think I should get.  The problem is I know too many Dr. Who geeks and they will choose the River Song cut out of bias rather than out of which cut would look best on me. 

I have two more days to decide.  Maybe I should just shave it all off and buy a wig.

Once my hair is cut, it's sadly not over.  The grays in my hair are really beginning to multiply.  To dye or not to dye?  If I dye, what color do I want?