Is it cold enough?

Posted: Sunday, January 30, 2011

Whoever is freezing cold, raise your hand. (Now put it back in your pocket -- it's cold out.)

Wouldn't it be funny to take pictures of people in the early morning as they go outside in the freezing cold to start their cars? I can only imagine what photos you might have later.

Some people would be so spry that by the time your finger pushed down the camera button, they would have already run out, started the car, and run back inside.

Some people might look as if they drank too many Red Bulls and calmly shake their way to and from their car.

I can picture the look on their face as I shuffle around in the bushes and jump out with my camera, "Surprise!" Epic.

I find that the freezing cold air creates awkward moments for myself -- like when I meet a new person, if my face is numb, I can't tell if my nose is running. So I'll lean in awfully close and say, "Nice to meet you!," and probably flare my nostrils naturally (well, as natural as it gets), which just loosens up the pipes.

Also, in order to be extra polite, my exaggerated smile probably looks terrifying, much like a person about to take a bite of a giant sub sandwich -- only with my nose running. I can only imagine the scene through their eyes.

When I realize their smile slowly morphs into confusion and their polite laughter turns to muffled gagging, I wipe my nose and instead of shaking hands, I do one of two things: I kick it up a notch with something even more awkward, or I run.

So I might start laughing loudly while my shoulders shake uncontrollably and re-enact the entire scene with the narration of an angry mountain man (which makes no sense). Or run.

Speaking of running, I run a lot when it's freezing out. You would think by now I resemble an Olympic sprinter, athletic and strong. But no, I just look like a spooked Oompa Loompa. It's rough, because by the time I make it inside the grocery store from my car, I am red-faced, teary and out-of-breath. I exude the calm look of panic.

Thank you cold air. Because of you, I look like an emotional wreck every time I go grocery shopping. Awesome.

To confirm anybody's suspicion of whether I am a crazy person, I shuffle back and forth while grunting and looking down. This is what I do to get warm. I look disgruntled. That's OK, but when my kids are with me, my year-old son shakes his head back and forth from the cold and my 5-year-old daughter stomps the snow out onto the floor. At that point, we seem like we're full blown dancing.

It's so cold, sometimes I get angry. I want to punch Jack Frost square in the face. The older I get, the wimpier I get. I should write a book called "Diary of a Wimpy Mom." There are some things I can handle quite well. Here is a list: constantly changing diapers (my baby's diapers, not mine); whiney repetitive questions; the show "CSI: Las Vegas"; being in jury duty; and my husband's love for computers.

Here are some things I can't handle very well: spiders; fake laughing at jokes; morning people (except my dad, he's OK); warts; and when it gets to be below zero outside.

When my very Alaskan dad won't go snowmachining, I know it's extremely cold out. I can pick up the phone and call him to see what his plans are for the weekend, and know whether or not to dress warm. I always dress warm, but it tells me whether to wear thick shoes or thick boots.

My girlfriends once mentioned how they miss wearing high heels right now. But I think you'd forever miss your toes if you got too desperate for pumps. They'd freeze right off into sad little marbles. Toes might look weird, but I'll keep mine, thanks. I'm not gonna lie. I like my toes. I don't kiss them goodnight or anything, but they're OK.

I have a lot of friends that live in sunny, warmer climates. However, as cold as it is here, the trade-off is just too great. You grow up with such character here in Alaska. Trying to avoid licking a swingset pole as a kid? That's not easy. You can't buy that kind of self-control. Waiting for the bus, while sporting the marshmallow look via huge puffy snowpants and jacket? Good times.

My daughter will thank me for putting her through a winter wonderland when she gets older. Or she might move to Florida.

So, here are some suggestions if you are like me and get discombobulated during the dead of winter: enjoy the winter sports; build a snowman; and drink some hot cocoa.

Or, do what I would do: work on a new hobby; watch ridiculous reality TV shows; catch up on some reading; and struggle between embracing or scolding the extra weight I've gained during the holidays.

Either way, keep warm and keep those smiles frozen on!

And if you happen to see what appears to be a runny-nosed crazy lady stomping around at the grocery store entrance, try politely saying "Hi" and snapping a photo. I'd love to see how that one turns out.

Kasi McClure lives in Kenai, where she enjoys being a wife and mother of two children.

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