Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dear Laraine, Love Laraine

Dear Laraine,

I am writing to you from Kripalu. I thought I would take the time to give you some helpful hints for your trip here. I hope they haven't arrived too late. It is very different here, and no matter how much you think you are prepared, you will likely not be.

Here are some new terms:

1) De-ice. This is both a noun and a verb. It is a common action in many airports that are not in Arizona. De-icing a plane sounds like a huge thunderstorm is happening on the plane. De-icing smells like papaya and it is green like monster snot. The pilot will come on the speaker and say, "We are deicing the plane now and getting some ice protection. It will smell like papaya. Do not be alarmed. I know you can't see out the window because of all the white stuff outside that is blowing around, but you don't need to worry. I've done this before." You will not, at the time, appreciate the trademark humor of Southwest Airlines.

2) Gluten-free. You've seen the little stickers in the store. You already try to eat a large number of foods that are gluten-free, but you have yet to make the complete gluten-free plunge. You will find that you will soon be hungry enough to take this gluten-free plunge and you will stop reading the labels for the food and just start putting them in the little black Buddha bowls they give you so you won't take large portions. You will dream of cheese, but it will pass.

3) Airport shutdown. This will not happen to you on the way to Kripalu, but it almost will in Chicago. Chicago is prepared for this. You are not, and you have difficulty trusting that anyone can do anything in snowy weather, especially fly an airplane. As you board your flight in Chicago for Albany, the storm will be just about squarely over the city. Southwest (trademark humor again), will tell you to hurry up and board and don't stand in the aisle and put your things away quickly because they're about to shut down the airport and you know you don't want to get stuck here so go go go. You will imagine the earth beneath your feet and you will pretend that you are not in a white out.

4) White out. Just like it sounds. You don't know weather can do this, but it can, and it really is white, and you really can't see anything, and people are relatively unconcerned about it.

5) - 5 degrees. This is not, actually, just like it sounds. You have been cold at 40 degrees. You think cold is like heat. Anything over 95 degrees feels about the same. You figure anything below 35 degrees will feel about the same. This is absolutely not true, and it is a dangerous assumption to make. - 5 degrees feels like knives.

6) Wind chill. OK,so you've never lived in a place where wind chill happened. It sounds very dramatic on the weather channel. -5 degrees feels like knives. -5 degrees with a windchill factor of -25 feels like machetes. It takes longer to get chopped to bits with knives. One or two hacks with a machete will take care of it. Pay attention to the wind chill factor. When the guest sitting next to you in the lounge says she's from Canada and today is COLD, take note.

7) The sun is not the sun you think it is. It will be very disconcerting for you. You have grown up and lived places where the sun is warm. Whenever the sun comes out, it warms up. So, when the snow stops and there is a day with sun, you are programmed to believe -- ah! It's going to be 45 today and glorious. No. It is not. It may be glorious, but it will not be 45. Here's the very strange thing: Sometimes it's colder when the sun is out than when there are clouds in the sky.

8) A dry snow. You know how you like to tell people from Florida that Arizona has a dry heat? Well, the northeast has dry snows. I still do not understand this, but I will tell you that you cannot put enough lotion on. Your skin will feel like a lizard's, and your hair will become scarecrow like. You will wonder how there can be 18" of snow outside and no moisture in the air, but it is true. Your towel will dry faster in Massachusetts than in Arizona. This is especially disconcerting.

9) You cannot just step outside "for a minute" to take a picture without putting on many items of clothing, including a hat, gloves, and a scarf. There is no such thing as "for a minute" when it is -5 degrees. You will spend hours drinking steaming ginger tea to try and heat your core back up.

10) Jackets, scarves, and gloves. There is nothing made that is warm enough for you. You are a child of the south and a resident of the southwest. Your body does not understand this weather. No coat is enough. No gloves are enough. You need to just stay inside where it is a beautiful 70 degrees and walk around in bare feet and look at the crazy people cross country skiing.

11) Snow does not melt. The snow that you are used to goes away in two or three days. This snow does not go away. Apparently ever. Ever.

12) Ice crystals. When it is -5 degrees there are ice crystals hanging in the air. You can't see them but you can feel them. They feel like tiny toothpicks on your skin. I don't understand what this is, but if the very oxygen is freezing, you have no business being outside in it.

13) Icicles. You will suddenly understand how someone can get killed by an icicle. They hang from everything and they are very heavy and when they crack and fall it sounds like a glacier moved.

14) Snow plows look like Wall-E. They begin at 5 a.m. and they circle round and round the building. The headlights are up top because the plow is at the base. They push and lift snow. They dump snow. They push and lift snow. They dump snow. This is what they do and they are at peace with it.

15) Cars get snowed in and iced in, resulting in an interesting phenomenon for the owner of the car. Apparently everyone carries a snow shovel in their car. Nice people at Kripalu have ice picks. They can be summoned to help you pick out your vehicle. No one should have to do this.

16) Wind. This is not the wind you know. This is not the monsoon wind, not the crazy March wind, not the ill wind that blows no good. This is Rudolph wind (from the original claymation show). This is abominable snowman wind. This is wind that travels through the walls and around the four-paned windows and into your bones. You will understand why people from cold climates moved to Phoenix.

Keep these things in mind, and you will have a wonderful trip. Stay inside. Drink hot tea. Drink lots of water. Remember that the sun is cold (Chant it: Sun is cold. Sun is cold. Sun is cold). You will be well.


1 comment:

RN said...

Hi Laraine,
I don't know that I've ever posted a comment but I am always checking out your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. This last post made me laugh. I grew up in Southern California but did enjoy a cold climate in Wisconsin for a few years. Before I moved there a woman told me that I would never be able to endure it. It was quite the opposite, the frigid temps were invigorating and I loved any excuse to buy sweaters, hats and scarves. Now I am in Texas panting my little heart out in the summer months. Enjoy the snow while your there!