While I really did want to move to a city, I am now thinking that perhaps a small town slash ruralish setting is the best place to learn winter. The trees and hillsides are all so pretty when covered in snow. Plus I think the dirtiness inevitable caused by hordes of people would mar my first impression of the cold. Last but not least, I’m sure it is far easier to adjust to one thing at a time and adjusting to living with low temperatures has already required a lot of learning.
I was thinking about it today, and really the coolest part about cities is that they aren’t suburbs. And some small towns capture that same feel by being a nice compact small drop of urban-ness, without any suburban aftertaste. Downtown here is small but a decent selection of shops, all very walkable, and for the most part surrounded by closely grouped houses that are again mostly in walking distance. Campus forms a sort of second center that is also surround by closely grouped houses. I have yet to see any sort of ugly typical apartment buildings. Just lots of big, old, mostly Victorianish houses that are usually divided into three or four apartments. Even so there is plenty of character in most of the houses. I guess that probably results from the being old part. So in short, while not a big city, it is closer than one would imagine.
My impressions from adjusting to the cold, thus far: layers are great when you are out all day and are perhaps engaged in physical activities, such that clothing must easily accommodate temperature variations within a small range. However, layers suck when you are dealing with two temperature extremes, i.e. walking between heating buildings. Upon entering a building, it is blistering to me in my many layers. Then when leaving, I must stop for what seems to be ten minutes to re-clad myself with the various insulating and wind blocking garments. To this end, I am getting a big puffy parka with a big puffy hood for my head and big puffy pockets for my hands. I realize I will look the part of a fool, but I will be warm and I will be happy so I care not. Also, upon transitioning to or from a heated space, there will be one, only one, item to take off or put on. Being able to be lazy makes me happy also.
With regards to faces and hands and other extremities, I think you just get used to that biting, tingling feeling that I suppose is cold. I have started down this path. The feeling is still there, it just bothers me less than it used to. Not that I advocate being the tough guy who wears a t-shirt with hands thrust deep into his jeans pockets and says “I’m fine” while shivering uncontrollably. It’s just sometimes useful to see where you are going or to use fingers to deftly manipulate keys or other objects.
Classes start tomorrow. I alternate between feeling like I will fit right in and feeling like everyone else will be much smarter and better prepared than I. Right now I am signed up for two classes and one colloquium which is just listening to lectures without being tested on them. I am also TA’ing an Operating Systems course. No lecturing, just grading and holding office hours to answer questions. I am still not sure if this is all that I am supposed to be doing or not. I have learned that if everyone else starts fall semester, then even if given the option to start spring semester, start the next fall. My records seem to have fallen into every available crack, and no one knows quite what to do with me.
Returning to issues cold, it snows here, a lot. I have discovered that there are actually times when I wish it would stop snowing for a bit. I know, I know, I was just as surprised. But seriously after walking around all day with it falling all around me, I start to develop some personal space issues and I’m just like “GET OUT OF MY FACE”, which I may or may not say in a pseudo gangster style. Of course, the speech was only in my head, so it doesn’t really matter much either way. Then again, it hasn’t snowed in a day or two now and I am starting to miss it, so as I would expect, it is a mostly rosy relationship for now.
p.s. The Science of Sleep is playing all week on campus. Guess who isn’t going to see it? :) It really was good the first time, though. Don’t make me that guy.