I’m sitting with a group of friends at our usual cafe. It’s dark and wet outside, typical for any day of the year here in Rochester. We’re all lamenting the onslaught of winter, praying that there is an end in sight and discussing how over rated the holiday season truly is, over steaming Mocha-Caramel Lattes with extra whip cream. It’s all a little pretentious really, but I’m so thrilled with the idea of not being stuck in my apartment, that I would have gladly accepted the invitation to shovel horse shit just to get out of the house for five minutes.
I’ve been more than a little anxious in life recently. Winter is never really my strong season, but then again, is it for anyone? It’s cold, dark, and depressing. Kind of like the set of Grey’s Anatomy now I venture. The whole bad vibe of winter and the claustrophobia of being stuck indoors really messes with my head and throws my routine into a tailspin. And when I start to feel unsettled, well, everything becomes a big ordeal. I can’t concentrate on anything and my mood sours. Life and everything in it becomes one big giant bitch fest. And when you have that much time on your hands, it becomes so much easier to be sit back and bemoan the ills of life than to actually participate in it.
The silver lining in this winter blue madness is knowing I’m not alone. People in general this time of year are all stressed to the max, worn down, feeling under-appreciated and not confident in their abilities, personally or professionally. So stuck in a rut, one can’t possibly take the good with bad and feel balanced. If by some miracle things are running smoothly, we seldom take the time to stop and enjoy the view or the people in it.
I’m telling you, though, we do have the power to stop the negativity. As we go into the holiday season and a new year, I don’t want to do it with a cloud over my head and neither should you. So I say in lieu of New Year resolutions, you know, those ideas we come up with to better our lives but never actually get around to doing, we instead simply focus on getting through the winter, the simple pleasures in life and the few things we can do to improve our moods and spirit.
First of all, we must all learn to stop bitching about what we don’t have or don’t have time for! Instead, refer to these things as “one day I would like to...(pursue my chosen field, fall in love, have a romantic getaway with my lover, settle on a hair color that isn’t quite so intimidating...you fill in the blank), but quickly remind yourself “but until then, I will be grateful for...(the opportunities I do have, the love I do have for and from my family and friends, the five minutes we do have to tell each other how much we love each other, the fact that I can pull off blonde without looking like some kind of deranged queen...you fill in the blank). That right there will save you countless hours of grief.
There’s no better way to refocus crabby thinking and enjoy the life you do have than to stop staring at the four walls and get the hell out of your house. “It’s too cold to go out!” Bullshit. You go to work, don't you? You run those errands that have to be run, don't you? Make time out for yourself as important as any of those endeavors. Most of you have cars. Go for a ride. “The roads are bad!” Okay. I can’t really dispute this one necessarily as we do live a state known for unpredictable weather (however, every year one would think people had never driven in, let alone seen ice or snow before the way they all carry on!). But let’s just pretend the roads are un-drivable. How about taking a mental journey and reading a good book? In the great age of the Internet, do we all still know what a book is? I myself like to get a snuggled up in a blanket and spend my evenings with #1 New York Times Best Selling Author Janet Evanovich. Trust me. She’s better than most men I’ve had over lately.
If driving is not an issue, call up a friend and suggest a movie/television night. Your place or theirs doesn’t matter. Throw some popcorn in the microwave, open a bottle of wine, and flip on the tube or put in your bootlegged copy of The Star Wars Christmas Special. Watching Carrie Fisher stumble around a badly lit and decorated sound stage, potentially drugged out of her mind (and to be a part of this mess, I think you’d have to be) is my kind of holiday joy. One of two things will happen this evening. Your friend and you will have a good time, enjoying the program and company, or, you and your friend will get a bit tipsy on the wine, get through the first half hour of said program, and wind up going at it right there on the living room rug. Either would be acceptable, really. (Please note: it’s been my experience that the latter of these options should happen spontaneously. It does no good to plan it. During one particular cold, restless evening, I invited my best guy friend over thinking, “hey, he’s bored and always horny. I’m bored and always horny. This might work.” Well it didn’t. We sat there watching Battlestar Galactica for two hours, he happy in his sci-fi geek-dom, and me puzzled at how laser guns and space ships could possibly compete with getting laid. If anyone knows the answer, please e-mail me!)
Whatever the case, my dear readers, don’t let the gray skies and frigid temperatures get the best of you this winter. Peace, contentment, and a little ridiculous-ness is your God given right year round. Don’t forget that. I try not to.
Essential Download: "Take My Hand"
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Originally published in the December 2006 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published GLBT Newspaper, published since 1973 by the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.