Lessons I’ve learned on surviving a freaking cold winter

I’m relatively new to Los Angeles, but my body will probably never adjust to the year-round sun and mild temperatures because I was born and raised in the Midwest. For the first time in my life, I’ve found myself in one too many layers, and even when the thermometer reads 70, December has me reaching for the gloves and scarves. 

When I lived in Chicago, my weather-induced stress was significantly higher than it is today. I’m convinced that I was born without the gene that tells you how to dress practically for extreme weather conditions. I could not count on my fingers and toes the number of times I’ve walked home in ballet flats in six inches of snow or worse. But learning things the hard way makes these lessons stick in your brain. I laugh when the occasional Southern California rain has people running for their parkas and Uggs, because let’s just say that you’ve never really braved weather until the wind reaches speeds of 20 mph the block before your apartment and ice shards are being pelted towards your face. And for those of you who can relate, I have some wisdom to share that will help you survive even those pesky polar vortexes.

1. Purchase a pair of boots with traction, or at least teach yourself how to fall without hurting yourself. 

I can’t necessary credit myself with coordination. Add ice/snow into the equation and that spells trouble. A pair of boots might look cute in the store, but if there’s nothing to grip the treacherous ground beneath you, they might as well be ice skates. You need Fluevog, or certain styles of Frye, or some classic L.L. Bean. One night I remember running across the street to the corner store whilst wearing fancy (read: weather-inappropriate) shoes. This mistake caused me to fall so hard on my butt that an old lady offered to help me up. As an experienced faller, you should always try to avoid landing on your wrists, knees, elbows, or any part of you that can bend, which is actually most of them. To be honest, your butt is the only safe landing pad, and you just have to laugh it off like we do most things that involve butts. Everyone’s been on their tookus at least once in their lifetime. I think Confucius said that.

2. No winter coat is going to look that cute so choose warmth over fashion.

The year I finally decided to retire my cute peacoat for something that was much less form-flattering and much more marshmallow man was one of the best winters I ever had. To be honest when it gets that cold, no one is judging your outfit (that is unless you are the crazy person in only a hoodie). And you can give your coat a name, like Puffington, and then say to that polar vortex: “Bring it, because we [and here you mean you and Puffington] are READY.” In conclusion, there is no shame in being warm. A couple of the main advantages include that you are much less likely to get frostbite or turn into Olaf from Frozen

3. Listen to the weatherman. If your news channel keeps talking about a SUPER BAD SNOWSTORM, take precautions. 

The Midwest is generally always prepared for bad weather. There could be a blizzard outside and yet somehow the pizza delivery boy will make it to your doorstep. And, yeah, the meteorologists tend to be alarmist, because it’s their big moment and they want to be a part of something. But if it’s trending on Twitter, you might want to take note. When I was in college we experienced something we called the “snowpocalypse.” It snowed so much that the entire city shut down. Being college students, we holed up in one apartment and slumber partied. But when we woke up, classes were cancelled, Lake Shore Drive was literally frozen over, and we were very close to being physically snowed in without enough provisions or flashlights in case the power went out. So take warnings like that pretty seriously. Have some basic supplies, like water and batteries and candles. Put on an extra pair of socks and be safe. Don’t take a leisurely drive when a night in with Netflix will be sufficient. You definitely don’t want to be the one whose car is frozen in the middle of the street. 

4. Living in the extreme climate makes you appreciate nice weather so much more.

I will always remember the first day of spring more vividly than the long, cold months of winter. In Chicago, the first nice day usually strikes around April or May. You might even get one rare day in March where it’s 55 degrees and all of a sudden everyone’s outside. People are picnicking, they’re donning their shortest shorts, they may even be dancing in a Macarena flash mob. In L.A. this is the same weather that gets people to use their fireplace and wear knit hats. Not that I’m complaining, but sometimes I want to say “bah, humbug, sun.” When I lived in a state that had different seasons, a white Christmas was actually achievable and watching it beside a roaring fire was that much more magical, and those summers and springs were practically Technicolor.

So take it from me and know that there are lots of upshots. If you can make it through this winter, you can make it through the next. And if you ever decide to move somewhere warm, then you can make fun of what wusses the people who live there are. 

[Images via herehere, here, here, here and here]

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