Monday, January 12, 2015

hatred of sound

2015 so far. 
Thanks this week to Stormin' Norman. For everything. 
School started today but it wasn't so bad. It's my third semester at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, so, you know, I'm a big kid on campus now. This morning I sat down next to Billy, my old friend from Anatomy & Physiology. "The parking situation is out of control right now," he whispered to me. "I had to park in a hole."

I thought about Billy and his wide grin, metallic with braces, emerging from a hole in the earth like a gopher, shaking dirt off of himself as he tromped to Organic Chemistry, and I began to feel better about the semester.

There is a man out in the country who is fixing my back. He twists me, cracks me, hooks me to electrodes and covers me with blankets of ice. Every day I make the long drive out to his office, and sometimes while driving I listen to one of the many Christian radio stations they have down here. Just to see what they're up to. I also wonder if the chiropractor is Christian, and whenever I'm at his office I look for clues. I know it doesn't matter. But being non-religious person in a such a deeply religion area, I'm always curious.

Yesterday David and I hiked to the top of Bear Wallow mountain in Gerton. I interviewed the author of a local trail guide for an article the other day, and this was the hike he recommended. The summit was bald and bleak, in a pretty way. I felt sort of sad at the top. Maybe because it's January, and as we decided one year ago: January is January, wherever you are. Maybe it's because I'm being driven insane by sounds. I'd write more about that, but I have to admit that I don't know how. It would come off as too strange. Maybe one day.

I've written three articles so far for my new job. An interview with an adventure photographer, an interview with Courtney from Holdfast Outfitters (I like her!) and a peppy little thing about creative ways to stay in shape in Asheville over the winter. This week I'm interviewing a contestant from National Geographic's Ultimate Survival Alaska! My first reality TV star- maybe I'll be writing for US magazine one day. But I dream.

Today is wet and grey, which is a mercy because these are the days that were created for classrooms and books. Tomorrow morning Billy and I will be in chemistry lab, a three hour block of time that I will tick off in my notebook in ten minute intervals. I really know how to make myself miserable. But! Already this year I've seen Jerry Douglas play his dobroe live on stage, went mountain biking on a very warm day, slept the whole night through, read a book on the couch, watched Hometeam slide down a river of ice, saw Molly blow out the candles on her birthday pie, taught a friend how to roll a kayak and ate the best hamburger of my life. Small victories.
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I have a few things to catch up on- if you're wondering where the post is about all of us and where we live, I'm still working on it. I almost didn't do a Mystery Prize today, but the truth is, your comments provide such good companionship that I didn't want to go without them during this gloomy week.

This week's Mystery Prize is designed to bring a tiny burst of sunshine to your winter. To enter to win, leave me a comment with your trick to cheer up your January days. Everyone has one hat trick- lighting candles, your favorite book, skiing, juicing; whatever it is, I'm going to try them all. Alternatively, you could tell us how your new years is going so far. Or both.

I read every comment. Actually, a lot of people read every comment. Sometimes they inspire brand new posts. Thank you for them. A winner will be chosen at random from the comments, and sunshine will be promptly sent their way. Good luck!!

66 comments:

Ebeth said...

Handstands! My hat trick is to do handstands! They are so much fun, provide a burst of energy and strengthen quite a few muscles if done regularly. Go do a handstand Melina, against a wall if you need to (I still do) they are wonderful!

Rachel Zacher said...

Colorado! Seriously no tricks needed. I moved here about 2 years ago and things are pretty grand. Winter can be sunny! And when sun and winter combine only the loveliest adventures await.

Andrew Takahashi said...

Every morning I listen to at least 10 minutes of something that makes me laugh. Whether it's a comedy album I've listened to a hundred times or a comedy podcast I'm hearing for the first or 50th time, starting my day with a giggle gets my day started right.

carolyn said...

I've been reading my books I got for Christmas. Kelle Hampton convinced me to get "yes please" and it was amazing, also winter is a great time to reread the dark tower series and the outlander series. Great books to cuddle up with!

Jaime said...

Playing music is what soothes my soul. My husband plays the guitar, and I sing. We give our two year old an instrument, and she even sings a long. Sing a happy song! It will work wonders. I am recovering from surgery. So the darkness seems much more dreary. Spring will bring good things. Until then, I will sing.

Mandy Weston said...

I find that grey days are the best cleaning/purging days. I don't feel that great while I'm scrubbing out the shower or oven, but it keeps me moving and the result always brings me more peace. That, and it gives me an excuse to listen and sing along with terrible pop music that I generally don't admit that I like.

Ok fine, it's actually more like 50/50 cleaning and dancing.

Kelsie said...

Cartwheeling Through Thunderstorms. Fantastic read!

Jenna Richards said...

I have a 'Happy' playlist full of motivational, cheerful and (arguably) cheesy songs!

If I feel mood slipping in the wrong direction, I put my earphones in, go for a walk and listen to the playlist. Works every time.

Hoping for a happier week for you.

Jenna at Tinyfootsteps x

Diary of Why said...

Taking cooking classes and planning a June trip to Iceland.

Also, I really want to hear more about the sound thing.

Sarah said...

My go tonis playing indoor soccer with a fabulous team in my over 30 women's league! No matter how dreary or awful a day is, when you go run around with good people and KICK THINGS, you automatically feel better!! :)

Alice said...

Hands down- a bubble bath, beer, and a good book!

Aimee said...

Bake, and create in general. Crochet a cowl, sew a cushion cover. Homemade musuli, peanut butter, fresh bread. It's hard to be gloomy when your surrounded by good smells and a feeling of accomplishment (and I stick to very very foolproof recipes to make sure I achieve the latter)

Adriane B said...

Citrus in season, bounding in the snow mit Corg, GREENHOUSES.

Ann said...

In Alaska we lose and gain light so quickly that to cheer up I just read in the paper how many minutes of daylight we're gaining today. Today we gained 3min44sec.

Or I turn all the lights on in one room and make it feel like summer..and listen to French Cafe radio on Pandora.

Sara said...

My friends and I invent holidays! We have "winter warmth" night which includes board games, pajamas, hot chocolate and baileys, popcorn and blasting loud music. It's amazing how much I look forward to it!!

Lauren Mapes said...

Cooking recipes from a cookbook. It is nice to open a cookbook and follow the recipe instead of looking at a screen as I do so often. It's mostly soups with some sweet winter squash to brighten the days. It's the act of making something.

rebecca said...

I plan holidays that I can't afford to gorgeous sunny locations. :) Just dreaming about and looking at those places makes my day feel brighter.

Jessica said...

I'm with Alice! I must take four baths a week...if not more! I close the bathroom door to make it nice and steamy inside, and I either have a stack of books or- if i'm feeling very much in need of a mood change- I'll light candles, shut off the lights and listen to a book on tape. Pure relaxation, so good for cold nights!!

Alyson said...

Yoga classes. I have to buy 10 at a time so that I HAVE to go....since I've already payed for them. I find it's always hard to get motivated, but as soon as I walk into that room, the weather and the stress just melt away....

Anonymous said...

What's my hat trick you ask? I toss my towels in the dryer before a shower. When I wrap myself in a nice warm towel, I always feel like I'm at the spa. To avoid the dryness, check out lotion gloves and aloe socks. You'll thank me! Love your blog and your photos.

Elizabeth said...

Dog in a plaid blankie!!!!

I really focus on the light coming back. It's more dramatic here in the PNW than in other parts of the country, but oh, it helps just to notice. I also decided to be less stingy and turn on more lights, especially in the late afternoon and evening, and to light candles. Light light light. Up here in PDX, there are flowers blooming (daphne, forsythia), and that's another helpful thing to focus on. You can do it!

Erin Macauley said...

Reading these comments! No joke...we readers are some sunshine folks. I love it.
This year it's taking my boyfriend's ole lady beagle (14 this month) for a walk every day at lunch. LORD was it a nasty day today...but I found a break in the rain to run home and walk her the quarter mile? Half mile? that her hips will let her, and the grin on her face became my own.

CorporateHippy said...

I like to think that January is just the road that takes me to February, which is really the best month of them all. If we're going to get snow, it'll come in February. The days start to get longer and the sun comes out. February makes up for January. :)

Laura said...

I'm going to use all of these! I live in Minnesota, we get whupped by winter. I don't have anything particularly new to add, but I do like to bake and knit, Friends is on Netflix now (goodbye productivity) and a good dark beer in the evening is always something to look forward to.

Elisa said...

Can I just say that this is SO fun!! I am really enjoying this process and so grateful for a place to connect (even if it's online, with people I have never met). It is inspiring to read through the comments!

I can't decide though what I like to do...it's a combination of snowy adventures, reading Kinfolk and Taproot magazines and other books, coloring in my new Musculoskeletal Anatomy Coloring Book, learning Swedish and being extra diligent to search for those blessed souls who still have their Christmas lights up. It's listening to familiar music and finding new music, maybe knitting (if I remember to do so), stepping outside late at night in only my pjs to see the stars and watching a handful of shows online (like Parenthood, New Girl, Downton, Grey's Anatomy, etc.). Morning excursions with my friends' kids are pretty exciting, too!

After thinking this through and making this list, I'm convinced it's all of it--just keeping myself busy and in good company so I do not give myself up to Despair and Loneliness, two companions I am all too familiar with.

Melina said...

Elisa, I love your list and your spirit. Connecting with you all is one of the brightest things for me in this winter. My favorite shows are Friends, the office, 30 rock and parks and recreation even though I know they're all really old now. Oh, and big love! And game of thrones.

I swear I don't watch that much TV.

Vi said...

I keep a little playlist with some go-to songs like James Brown "I Feel Good" or Grace Potter and the Nocturnals "Hot Summer Night" and then I dance like a maniac until I either pull a muscle or gasp for breath. Never fails to cheer me up!

QueenTage said...

I grab a cup of something warm, sit out on the front porch, and breathe in the smell of the cold air. There is something about it that soothes me to the soul.

Catherine said...

I love winter! I love stepping outside in the morning with coffee and seeing my breath. I love coming inside after an afternoon skiing and warming up near the stove. I guess that's my suggestion- live somewhere where it snows in the winter! But if not, can I suggest hot coffee in the morning and spiked hot chocolate at night?

I like your small victories. Makes me think about my own from the year so far. And as always, your photos make me smile.

Kelsey Imondi said...

My trick is to embrace the gloominess either by curling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa or throwing on my rain gear to go for a walk in the rain (I live in Portland and I was born and raised here so I don't own and refuse to use an umbrella).

Megan Marie said...

I have a vase of (silk) gerbra daisies that I take out of storage and display on my bookshelf; bright yellow, orange, an purple flowers in a huge arrangement. Bright flowers coupled with baking my favorite lemon bars brings a little bit of summer to the snowy and grey January days.

Suzanne said...

This isn't particularly cheerful -but- I tend to get a lot of work done in the winter. I like feeling productive, especially when I know that when spring comes, my productivity will drop....way drop.

Britta said...

I don't actually mind January. February typically wears on me more. Right now my trick is... wide open curtains during the day. Let the sun shine in. OH! And we play Here Comes the Sun on repeat and have dance parties with the girls.

sockrocking said...

Hi! I've been reading your blog for awhile (I also like adventures, the outdoors, used to live in NC, and am now similarly chugging along in the medical field ;)), and the MiniBook itself is something I used to do in the winter -- look through old photos that remind me of all things pleasant and happy, and remind myself that all the seasons will eventually get their own time ;)

Another thing I used to do was take a super warm shower, then while still really fuzzy and warm, crack open a window and take in some cold air... It sounds really silly but made me feel really alive ;)

Amber Jackson said...

January has become the month of lonely. Tom is summitting the tallest mountain in the Americas, taking other people on the adventure of their lives, as I sit, wait, pass time, twiddling thumbs in the gloomiest month, eagerly planning out all our eventual adventures once he returns to me. Escaping this spiral of lonely gloom I have two tricks. One, I acquired from you: baking, but baking healthy, avocado brownies, peanut butter rice crispies with no butter or marshmallows (nothing raw, which I also learned from you). The other live saving trick is to climb, climb hard, often and until it hurts. I find when I climb so hard everything hurts, all the other worries go away.

Jes said...

In so many weird ways since you started this series, reading the comments here. Every single one of them. So much inspiration.

But, outside of that, I suck at finding a happy spot in winter. Sometimes it's finding a cuddle puddle with friends. Other times, I need alone time and a cat to spoon. Other times, it's sucking it up, putting on a zillion layers and riding my bike and feeling like a bad ass. Depends on the day :)

meghanssj said...

I live in Minnesota where it is cold and wintery a lot, so I have a lot of tricks. Here are the ones I've employed in the first 13 days of 2015: Trip to Sanibel Island FL, Cozy night in with friends playing records, visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, visit to the zoo, visit to the conservatory, make a crockpot of lentil soup, drink peppermint tea. I've got more up my sleeve.

- Mariel - said...

Melina, your topics are proving so relevant just when I need them. Last January, I began the new year by spending 4 days in the hospital with a particularly aggressive strain of mono. I was discharged on the coldest day of the year in Philadelphia -- 4 degrees outside! -- and felt the gloom of January in full force. What helped build back both my physical and emotional strength: a hot yoga class. I'm not very practiced at yoga, but something about the way the instructor told us to be kind to ourselves, and take refuge from the cold in this cavernous, heated room -- it fed my soul.

This year, I am again trying to build my strength through exercise -- this time through gym classes. It helps me to see other people successfully coping with the winter. I've also just gotten hooked on Private Practice episodes on Netflix (waiting for Grey's and Game of Thrones to start up), audio books (Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler is a shot-in-the-arm of comedy on long, gray commutes), and have been more diligent about scheduling catch-up calls with friends.

Bethany said...

This January is about transitions for me. My first days back to work, leaving my brand new baby. This January, i get through my days appriciating my curtain-less windows that allow so much sun to filter into our home. Planning dinner parties and filling our home with little babies and friends making merry, way past the sunset. Homemade candles made last January begin to light up our dinner table. We watch Northern Exposure while sipping hot chocolate. We snowshoe when the temperatures allow with a baby. We cook big meals. I take photos of what i'm grateful for and i write.

Jen said...

Great timing for this post...I will be reading all of the comments for inspiration! Oh January...

I have two tricks...it depends on the type of gloom. One is to curl up under a warm blanket with a snack and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

The other is to grab the dog and go out into the cold, snowy world. As much as I want to hibernate, the frigid outdoors tends to give me the jumpstart I need.

Emily Hackethorn said...

Love these comments! Getting out and skiing on the weekends makes the weeks go by for me. A stash of hot cocoa helps, too! xo

Maire said...

Hi Melina! My winter-busters:
- vitamin D. I'm susceptible to placebos
- sunlight. Once I got a real job, I plunked down the cash for it.
- one small winter trip. My friend and I plan it and plan it and it's just a weekend where we pick a place and GO. Years of working weekends, holidays, etc make this extra luxurious now!

Erin said...

I am unabashedly binge watching a lot of great TV during this second most snowy winter on record. Just tore through both seasons of The Vikings, for example. Also, soup is important... and easy, unlike perogies ;)
I'm kinda moody so I just have to go with it this time of year. This lends itself nicely to journaling and the like. I have to stay up on my Vitamin D, get plenty of fresh air, etc. to keep the SAD at bay.
Happy New Year!

Ici said...

I get out every single day because my beautiful 4-legged's demand it. My two Labs, Gracie and Hank, force me out the door, either to ski or hike, no matter the weather. Usually I'm a game accomplice, but some days I need there joyous enthusiasm to make me move. Once we're all out there, loving the day, the snow and their smiles, I'm so happy to be in the moment with them. I'm a cold weather gal by nature, but having friends like my dogs makes me appreciate it even more.

Katherine said...

January is hard. The cold, the grey skies, the rain. It's almost enough to make me long for SC summers. Since I mostly feel like nesting right now, I'm working on making our home cozier. Homemade meals (even if my boys opt for pb&j over roasted vegetable lasagna), cleaning and creating and settling in while we wait for sunnier days.

Ashley D said...

I tell myself that it's ok that January is dark and difficult to survive. Then I give myself full permission to endure by wearing sweatpants and spending copious amounts of time under a blanket, on my couch, watching movies. I'll get back to life in February.

b said...

The thing that makes winter miserable for me is the lack of sunlight. So what I do to get through January is write down the sunset times for every Friday (basically through March) in my planner at work, so I can visually see things getting better. For example, in Philadelphia, last Friday the sunset was at 4:53pm, and this Friday it's at 5:01!!! That means it will still actually be light out when I leave work! It's a little thing, but knowing that the extra light is coming really makes a big difference to me.

Lori Delgado said...

Oh, January and February suck for me. I get so down. I "did" something about it a few years ago and found out I have a "critical vitamin D deficit"- in that I require insane amounts of vitamin D. And, while I'm sure it says I'm from SoCal, I'm from the High Desert/Mountain region, where it is "cold" in the winter, and our sunlight just isn't as strong. So, I take insane amounts of vitamin D. So that's the boring, medical, responsible adult thing I do. I also volunteer. There is a statewide youth organization that I love. They meet three times a year for statewide conferences. It's a model state government based program, and well, these kids are smart, driven, and dedicated. My students struggle with the last two of these traits. So I volunteer with this organization. It gives me hope. I feel humbled by what some of our kids are doing, but so proud of them. I come back physically exhausted, but emotionally and spiritually recharged. I think it's wonderful, especially since two of their conferences are January and February; right when a frustrated teacher needs the recharge of doing something different. Honestly, I think I get more out of my weekends with the program than I put in as a volunteer. But, I suggest volunteering for anything, a shelter, soup kitchen, reading to kids at a school. It's amazing. And, I love reading everyone's posts. Gives me the same recharge!

Carolina said...

I make plans for spring and summer road trips. I know I should be living in the moment and finding the beauty around me and I try to...but the lack of green really gets me down! I like making reservations at campgrounds and reading through trail reviews. The kids and I plot and plan together and then daydream about all of the adventures we will have.

Monique said...

I get outside and run especially when it is sunny. I also work on organizing my house. Small things that get ignored during the nicer months when all you want to do is be outside.

Meaghan said...

A run with my dog, watching his ears flop makes me happy. Also cuddling up under a down comforter. :)

Meaghan said...

Running with my dog, I love seeing his ears flop. Also cuddling up under a down comforter! :)

Teague said...

TED talks on happiness are like instant cheerfulness! I love knowing the science behind things, and understanding happiness is a solid first step to maintaining it!

Carmen said...

Nourish, nourish, nourish! Drink water all day long to replenish dry skin and hair. Splurge on a fancy bottle of bath oil and soak in a hot bath. Put on lotion and a fuzzy robe. Hang a soft scarf by the door so you remember to put it on before you go out. Drink some good wine. Drink broth and eat winter vegetables. Drink hot tea. Nourish your mind with good books before bed. I tend to think of winter as a very introspective time. Journal, paint things, knit, cook, dance. Make a vision board for spring. I love winter as an opportunity for excessive self care ;)

adventurekate said...

I try what I've nicknamed "over-the-top gratitude." It's kind of a fake it 'til you make it deal. I acknowledge what I'm grateful for- obvious stuff at first, then smaller details or more obscure parts of my life- and even if I feel myself forcing it at the beginning, by the end, I truly am grateful and feel brighter and lighter.

Like many other commenters, winter is a time of retrospection and a time when it's OK to slow down a bit, so I try to journal and reflect. I also love using January to PLAN for the warmer months- brainstorming garden layouts, trip itineraries, bike rides- so that I'm prepared to jump into those summer days with all quadrants firing!

Jennifer Kehoe Young. said...

I do 3 different things depending on just how gloomy the weather is.
1. Jump on the kids' new trampoline...with or without them. I forgot how fun it is!!!
2. Tickle and pillow fights with our 3 and 6 year old. Their giggles are infectious.
3. Close all the blinds in the whole house, get one of the kids to pick a movie, the other gets the snacks, get the baby..and we all snuggle up under a giant blanket to spend the afternoon.

Casey Toby said...

I live in Phoenix, so we don't get it too bad here, but we spend a lot of time together as a family. Watching Netflix, playing board games, playing with the pups inside and outside. It's the quietest time of year and we revel in the quiet. Sometimes we'll open a bottle of champagne just for fun on a Saturday night and have a nice dinner of cheeses and meats.

momto4daughters said...

I get through January in MN by using my crock pot (slow cooker). I throw ingredients in the slow cooker first thing in the morning and then I can spend the day smelling the good food. I am done cooking early in the day and that makes me happy since I don't really love cooking!

Katie said...

I'm on a cleaning mission this January. I want to purge everything and have clean counters. I think it is from the Christmas overload and now I want it all empty, but 7 degree days are good incentive to stay in and clean.

Jill said...

My new year so far has included: board games at Mugby Junction coffeeshop; seeing a rainbow on a cloudless, sunny day; staying up until midnight with my cousins; making homemade granola bars; volunteering for Meals on Wheels; and watching Downton Abbey. My hat-trick? I guess I don't really have one specific thing.... it depends on my mood. Reading, listening to music, perusing seed catalogs, and making summer travel plans helps keep winter at bay. I'm getting a lot of ideas from the rest of the comments though!

Whitney said...

I actually love to run in the cold weather (by that I mean "Atlanta cold"), so downloading a podcast and tying up my shoes to head out actually lifts my spirits a bit. I've also been reading voraciously this winter. As soon as my kids are in bed, I'm under a blanket on the couch with a book.

Jenni said...

I live in Florida, so I just thank my lucky stars for the beautiful weather, put my flip flops on with a light jacket and get outside with my kiddos as much as possible.

Tana said...

i have absolutely nothing positive to say in regards to this prompt. if i win, please pass it on to someone who has a more constructive thing to say. listen, you are right: january really is january wherever you are. the only thing that makes me feel better is going outside and exploring the woods. but it takes a goddamn team to get me motivated to go outside and explore, so mostly i'm a wild beast to be around during these long and cold months. i hate winter and i love winter and i'm not interested in being in the middle of it anymore. i just bought snowshoes. maybe that will help. i don't know. i can't be positive right now. once when i was a child, my mother read me The Long Winter and I cried because she read it during a long winter, and it was terribly unbearable. right now, that's how I feel. it's unbearable. i'm unbearable.

Tana said...

also i loved this post. just thought you should know. you know when someone writes something that puts into words what you feel? you do that a lot.

Abbie said...

January is rough, even here in endless sunny Colorado. The holiday happiness has subsided and now everything just feels messy. Or boring. The guilt of overindulgence for said holiday has set in. The air seems colder and the nights darker. But I try to take it as my body's way of encouraging me to stay in, recover, and prepare for the adventures of the next year.

My survival tools:
- A goal list for the coming year: Nothing is more hopeful than dreaming about what the next 12 months of clean slate will bring.
- Crossfit (or whatever moves you): It reminds me of my ability to endure even the most uncomfortable moments, and beats that chill from the inside out.
- LL Bean flannel sheets and wicked good slippers: encouraging cozy, early bedtimes and naps since 1912.
- Endless boxes of herbal tea: ginger, peppermint, chamomile lavender, echinacea, peace in a cup.
- An excuse to stay in and just "be".

lynn said...

My 20 year old daughter swears she has Misophonia...it's very real to her....she is driven MAD by chewing, snoring, whatever. It'd be funny if it wasn't so serious for her.
Good luck with that. Spring is around the corner. Go to Tupelo Honey and have a biscuit with their awesome jam. That will perk you up in a minute.