What It Does In Wisconsin


I am not a big fan of the “Hey, remember when this happened X years ago today?” messages that various social media services and other Internet platforms send to me. On top of not always being accurate (like photo services that send me messages about the stock photos that came preloaded on my tablet), those memories often end up being things I’d rather not remember. Sometimes the memories are welcome, or the bad memories come with some kind of silver lining (like seeing the support I got from my friends during Mom’s final hospitalization and passing), but I don’t like them on the whole. I should probably disable them if I can, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to do that yet, probably out of a misplaced hope that I’ll get better “memories” to look at later on.

Last month, I was reminded of how two years earlier I’d been dealing with very painful flurries to the face (made painful by a harsh wind) in early October here in Wisconsin. That was only my second autumn here, and while I knew of Wisconsin weather before I arrived, that knowledge doesn’t make it any less of a pain to deal with. We actually had a very nice October this year, though, and we only had our first flurries of the season a few days ago. We’ve had some cold days, sure, but nothing that felt outrageously bad. (It probably helps that wearing a mask all the time while I’m out means that I’m inhaling warmer air than I used to in the years before the pandemic.) Even now, we’ve yet to have any white stuff stick to the ground here, and we’re going to enjoy at least two more days of warmer weather later this week.

Having said that, though, I’m honestly kind of dreading the coming winter weather. Last winter almost felt like a mulligan, since I barely had to leave my apartment during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even if I had some problems (including the heat in my apartment going out twice), they weren’t that difficult to deal with. As the temperatures have dropped over the past couple of months, though, I’m feeling much more than the usual sense of bitter resignation that accompanies this time of year and the cold weather that’s always a part of it. Even on days when it hasn’t been that cold out, the nausea I experience as I pull my coat on in the mornings has been more than a little worrying.

The reality, of course, is that what I’m dealing with isn’t so much a reaction to the colder weather as it is just general exhaustion over everything I’m trying to handle right now. Between campus responsibilities, concerns about the people closest to me, and a host of other issues that would take far too long to enumerate in this blog, I’ve just got too much on my plate right now. Colder weather is just one more thing that, unavoidable and relatively minor as it is, feels so much bigger as a result of the cumulative stresses of the last twenty months. That realization makes me feel even worse, since I recognize that all things being equal, it still hasn’t really been that cold here, and I haven’t even had to deal with any slip-sliding here yet.

Cold weather is just a fact of life here in Wisconsin, and it’s not like the winters I spent in Toledo were all that warmer. With all the turbulence in my life right now, though, I can’t deny that there is a temptation for me to figure out how to teach remotely from California for the next few months. I’m sure that I’ll manage the cold and the white stuff well enough when the time comes, but that doesn’t mean that I have to look forward to it. At least now my face will have more protection against the frigid weather.

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