A few of the things that are difficult when you live in a place where it's -11 degrees at 9:25 a.m.

That your nose hairs freeze the second you walk outside.

That you cough uncontrollably the second you walk outside.

That your booted, double-socked toes are continually stubbed as you kick repeatedly at frozen dog turds while on poop patrol.

That you have to hunch down to the level of the steering wheel in order to see out of the only truly clear patch on the dashboard despite scraping, wiping, and setting the defrost on full blast.

That the plug-in heat seater your sister gave you for Christmas shorts out after only a week, probably due to constant overuse.

That you carry hand lotion with you wherever you go, but it doesn’t matter, because your hands crack and bleed anyway.

That no matter how carefully you explain it to him, your dog still sits on the snow and tilts his head at you, not understanding why his paws are literally frozen.

That no matter how long you aim your fake-sun lamp at your eyeballs, you still can’t lift the gloom that has descended on your spirit.

That others tell you continually how beautiful winter is, and that it is your job to change your attitude.

That when they come up to you to be petted, your dogs inadvertently shock you with their electrified fur.

That despite the fact that you are currently wearing smartwool socks, silk long underwear top and bottom, fleece-lined Carhartt men’s jeans, a long-sleeved knit shirt, a wool sweater, a fleece vest, and a scarf – and you are INSIDE YOUR HOUSE – you are still trembling with cold.


  1. oreo · January 24, 2008

    Well, beauty can surely be attributed to winter, but also to death, pain, and tough lessons learned, among other unpleasant experiences. People need to stop confusing beauty with comfort and enjoyment. Just because the sun sparkles so prettily on the snow those few hours it deigns to shine doesn’t mean the cold isn’t half-killing you and trying its damndest to ruin the moment.

    I’d blabber on, as philosophy majors are prone to doing, but my fingers are stiffening outside their gloves. Inside the house.


  2. Kim Justesen · January 28, 2008

    The only thing I could add is that, on occasion here in Utah, we get the same cold, the same frost bite, but the gloom is worse. With mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley, we sit in a literal bowl which often causes us to experience an inversion – the cold air (smog, fog, smoke, etc.) is trapped by a warmer layer – and it can last for weeks. I believe the record without seeing the sun is 28 days. Think of your cold, and being trapped inside a bowl of oatmeal at the same time.

    I feel your pain, I really do!


  3. Kayla · October 9, 2008

    Hey! I love your books and Im from Minnesota!


  4. alison · October 9, 2008

    Thanks, Kayla, you fellow Minnesotan! Nice to hear from you.


  5. Dee · October 16, 2008

    I am thrilled with your choice of “When I met my Muse” as quoted atop your website. And while musing amidst our cold and colder, somehow we are not alone. Outer webbing, inner starstream, and cold-cut self re-assembled beyond shivered shards….
    Thank you.


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