winter survival guide, part one

it’s no secret that i hate winter. it’s my most loathed of all seasons. i hate cold weather, i hate snow, i hate ice. i hate having to layer my pants. something about putting on two pairs of pants (thermal & regular) really bugs me. i hate how no one in lawrence properly shovels their sidewalks. cold weather makes my arthritis worse, everyone hibernates in their houses & is reluctant to hang out, it gets dark earlier, it’s just an evil season.

but it’s not going away (until climate change tips its proverbial hand & spirals out of control so it’s 90 degrees every day), so i have to come up with a winter survival plan. thus, i present a compendium of what i hope will work for me this winter.

in the wintertime, people stay home more…if they’re anything like me. it’s no fun to take walks when you’re at risk for breaking a limb on the icy sidewalks, i’m not big on leaving the house after dark & it starts getting dark at 5pm, etc. so it’s important for my home to be a refuge & a sanctuary.

i feel best when my home is clean, tidy, organized, & well-decorated. over the summer, i started paring down my possessions so i wouldn’t have as much clutter laying around, & so i could better organize what remained. i recycled or sold a bunch of old magazines, unloaded books i’m no longer interested in, sold or donated clothes & shoes i’m not planning to wear again, etc. jared & i hung up our favorite posters & photographs, & i developed a cleaning routine (clean one room a day every weekday–there are five rooms in our apartment–& wash whatever dishes remain on weekends).

i like to have color in my home, so i like to paint the walls. it’s important to get this out of the way before the weather turns cold, so i’m not breathing in the migraine-inducing paint smell. we actually dropped the ball on this one. only one wall in our apartment is painted anything other than white (a dark green wall in the living room), but the decor provides enough color to make up for it. if we get one more semi-warm day before winter settles in, i’ll probably paint my office pink. but we did follow through on some other organizational features, like moving an extra bookcase into my office to organize my library books, typewriter, zines, etc (the stuff that doesn’t fit in my desk drawers), investing in a few bright tablecloths for the kitchen table, & re-arranging the bedroom to make it cozier & more inviting for sleep.

i get cold really easily, so it’s important for me to have a nice warm pair of slippers. i got myself a pair of slipper booties with non-skid soles & plenty of extra room inside for thick socks. i am also big on wearing pajamas as much as possible, so i have like six pairs of snuggly pajama pants, & a whole drawer dedicated just to ugly sweatshirts i would only wear around the house. i also stocked up on thick fuzzy socks. i have found that most women’s socks tend to be strangely thin compared to men’s socks–like women would rather have cute socks than functional socks. thin women’s socks wear out faster too. so i usually wear men’s socks. i’m usually wearing pants with them anyway, so who cares if they’re not cute? though i do have a few pairs of cute warm women’s socks.

i also have about a million pairs of sweater tights, which is weird, because i don’t wear skirts or dresses that often. i wear skirts & dresses so infrequently, in fact, that i could wear a different pair of tights for every day that anyone would ever see them for a year. but sweater tights are a nice alternative to thermal pants. they’re good for when i am wearing especially tight pants.

& they work great with my insulated waterproof sorel winter boots. these were an investment, but i love them. i hate it when my feet are cold &/or damp, & these boots keep my feet warm & toasty, even if i’m just wearing tights with them & slogging through three feet of snow.

since mostly i just wear jeans or corduroys & sweaters, i have found it helpful to have a few different mix & match silhouettes to work with. i have straight leg corduroys (a nice alternative to skinny jeans for larger ladies–more slimming) & boot leg corduroys (for a more rugged look). i have colored jeans, dark rinse jeans, & black jeans. i have corduroys in gray, charcoal, tan, & dark brown. & when i find a sweater i like, i pick it up in a few different colors. i have a really soft, warm button-up turtleneck in both pink & blue, & depending what color & cut of pants i pair it with, it’s a totally different look. i also have my punk sweater (with anarchist patches), my girly sweater (with cropped sleeves & ruffles), my business sweater (big collar & a ribbon tie), my black over-sized wrap cardigan, a charcoal cape-shoulder cardigan, & a few basic pearl-button cardigans–very preppy. plus my purple hoodie & my shredded black hoodie. basically, i am really big on being warm.

i team these sweaters with a thermal shirt, always. i have pink, blue, green, purple, black, & gray.

when i do wear a dress, i go for something with a long A-line skirt (flattering for curvy figures such as my own). this provides coverage & looks cute with sweaters & cardigans. i do have one winter-weight black miniskirt, but it remains to be seen if i will ever actually wear it in truly cold weather.

& then there’s outerwear. in lieu of a hat & scarf, i have a pink crocheted hood that wraps around my neck. sometimes my ears get cold, but it mostly gets the job done, & adds a little color to the usual dreary outerwear color palette. i think it’s important to wear a lot of color in the wintertime, because otherwise, i get depressed. okay, sometimes i get depressed anyway. but dressing in bright colors helps. it’s also important to have gloves. i don’t need to use my hands too much outside, so i haven’t sprung for really intense insulated gloves, but i do like to have access to my fingers (if i need to make a call or light a cigarette or something), so i have a pair of gray convertible mitten-gloves. it’s also important to have a winter coat that fits well, even when layered over a thick sweater. i have been using a black structured wool coat with an empire cut, but it was kind of a huge mistake. it’s too snug in the shoulders, which restricts my motion, & an empire-cut does me no favors. a stranger asked if my baby was kicking thanks to this coat, & i am not pregnant. so i got a new coat, also structured, but in a larger size & without anything calling attention to my non-existent fetus. it’s gray & black, which also helps give the outerwear ensemble a little extra interest.

also, one of my friends suggested sewing a pair of thermals into a pair of jeans, to avoid the whole tedious exercise in putting on two separate pairs of pants. i haven’t tried this, but i think it’s kind of a cool idea. i know i’m neurotic about this, but there are few things i hate more than having to put on two pairs of pants. it’s the worst!

next time: winter food, hobbies, & health.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “winter survival guide, part one

  1. I had a professor a few years ago who sewed thermals into a few pairs of jeans because even in class it was chilly – especially so for anyone with arthritis. I haven’t yet gotten to that point, but I did pick up a pair of footless tights today and some giant warm socks and am going to try them out in hope that the tights might act in the same way at least partially in the same way thermals do. The only problem I have with tights is that they have a tendency to almost hit my bra because I’m so short. I don’t even know if that’s a problem – I mean the elastic isn’t super comfy and I feel about eighty but I never end up with that draft from exposed skin.

    Thanks for the tips about the boots – I’ve been getting boots that promise to be good up to -40 Celsius and never are, which really sucks because it gets that cold here, so I’m going to take a look to see if I can find some locally. It would be so nice to feel my feet in the winter and not that particular your feet have lost all feeling except a specific type of frozen pain feeling.

    I’m a new reader and I’ve earmarked this particular entry because I have a tendency to downplay how hard the winter can be. I don’t know why yellow tulips don’t just show up at my door once a week as a little reminder of sunshine.

  2. I think you’re just delightful! I’m glad I found you ~ (following your “disabled” link — I am, too).
    Let’s hope your great writing morphs into feeling better, too.
    (And me — me feel better, too.)

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