With a Shiver in My Bones Just Thinking About the Weather

by Alafair Burke

Today I woke up with “Like the Weather” by 10,000 Maniacs in my head.

Why?  Well, I always have some song in my head, and better the sweet crooning of Natalie Merchant that yesterday’s brain virus, which was this:

(Oh, that was kind of mean, wasn’t it?  You’re going to be humming that all day, aren’t you?  Bieber Fever…crazy contagious, yo.)

Sorry.  Okay, back to “Like the Weather.”  I haven’t thought about that song for at least fifteen years, but, because I have the peculiar (and so far completely unmarketable) ability to identify an 80’s song to fit any situation, I found myself thinking about those lyrics this morning.

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.

Well by the force of will my lungs are filled and so I breathe.
Lately it seems this big bed is where I never leave.
Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
Quiver in my voice as I cry,
“What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hidaway.”

Seriously: Where on earth IS the sun hidaway?

I try my best not to whine. I realize I’m one lucky chick with one privileged life.  But damn if Mother Nature ain’t on my sh*t list these days.

Not since growing up in Kansas, where folks would gather on the porch with transistor radios until the tornado warnings sent them scurrying to the basement, have I spent so much time as this winter thinking about the weather.  Cold.  Grey.  Snow.  Slush.  Rain. Repeat.  Pretty soon it will be frogs, then hail mixed with fire, and eventually zombies will be involved. 

I hate this winter’s weather so much I’m trying to figure out how to kill it in my next book.

Because here’s the thing: Like that cute little barefoot Natalie Merchant, I am affected by the weather.  I shouldn’t be.  My job is indoors.  Most of my favorite city activities are indoors.  In theory, I don’t even need to go outside.

But somehow my body knows that it’s trecherous out there.  And when it’s trecherous, I get lazy.  I made myself go to the gym today, but my legs were moving halftime on the treadmill as if to say, “What do you expect, woman?  It’s raining out there.”

I can’t even write.  My brain’s a little foggy.  My eyelids are sort of droopy.  Somehow the sound of rubber tires on those wet Manhattan streets is so loud I can’t concentrate.  It’s so dark outside I can’t get enough light.  At least that’s how it feels.

But give me a dry, sunny day, and I’m the Energizer Bunny on crystal meth.  I’ll jump from bed, do a double work-out, and jam on my laptop for a couple or few thousand words.  I’ll tidy the apartment, run my errands, open my mail, and pay my bills.  I’ll take a shower and brush my hair.  I’ll even smile at strangers without scaring them.

These days… well, let’s just say it’s a good thing you can’t see me or my apartment right now.  Pretty sights, neither.

I gather I’m not alone in my primal connection to the weather.  Just ask Natalie Merchant. 

But despite old song lyrics and that urban legend about suicide rates in Seattle, I know some people who hate the sun and love the rain.  People who are energized by snow.  People who love clouds.  Maybe it’s just how we are wired. 

What’s your story?  Are you affected by the climate, or are you able to tune it out?  If you are affected, which weather reports float your boat, and which send you back into bed?

If you liked this post, please follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or my newsletter.  In the meantime, I’ll be trying to cheer myself up without Mother Nature’s help.  I was like, baby, baby, baby no… baby, baby, baby…

31 thoughts on “With a Shiver in My Bones Just Thinking About the Weather

  1. Chris Hamilton

    The darkest night I ever lived through were January and February days in Chicago, an endless procession of days where the sky was a featureless gray blanket, heavy and dark. It was like living in a cave. The killer was, when I got up early to go work out, it was always clear. Then by the time I finished working out, the low gray blanket had emerged like something Dean Koontz dreamed up. It was awful. Forget writing, I could barely be civil to people.

    Florida and Arizona suit my tastes much better, thank you.

  2. J.D. Rhoades

    Oh, yeah, preach it sister. Cold, gray days drive me into a funk. Add wet, and it's just awful. And this winter has been particularly brutal. I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it for a while there.

    But this weekend was gorgeous, and while it's cloudy this morning at least it was warm enough to get up and take the dog for his first morning walk in a couple of months.

    Hang on, Alafair…it'll get to you.

  3. Alafair Burke

    Chris, maybe it was the workout that was ruining the weather.

    Dusty, today is supposed to be warm but it is also supposed to rain. I could use a break, especially since our poor dog is on crate rest. We have to carry him outside. He's understandably upset but when it's raining, he looks up at me in complete misery.

  4. Vicky

    Are you sure you're not a Canadian? Gripping about the weather is our national pastime. Ever since the ice storm of 98, the forecast for freezing rain gives me palpitations.

  5. Alafair Burke

    Vicky, I do feel cliche complaining about the weather, but I try to blog about the stuff I'm actually thinking about at the moment. I realized I was in a slump and finally had to admit it was the winter weather getting to me.

  6. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I live in Southern California…I have nothing to complain about. If I talk about how cold it's gotten lately I'll just end up pissing people off…

  7. ZoΓ« Sharp

    Hi Alafair

    Hang on, I thought complaining about the weather was a Brit preoccupation?

    I like extremes of weather, providing they're brief – or seasons that are well-defined and fit the season they're SUPPOSED to be, not just slushy greyness throughout. Spring is supposed to be fresh, summer is supposed to be warm, autumn is supposed to be crisp and winter is supposed to be sparkling cold. If things slotted neatly into those categories, I'd be a happy bunny.

  8. Alafair Burke

    Stephen and Zoe, I remember people in law school complaining that California had no seasons. I really did not see the problem. As much as I like a white Christmas and crisp autumn, I'd gladly trade them for year-round flip flop weather.

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Well, Alafair, you wouldn't be wearing flip flops out here this week. Hail on Saturday, and frost every day for the last four. It's still nothing to complain about, but I get sluggish in the winter no matter where I am. I think hibernation is still a part of our DNA, and we all tend to wake up in the spring. At least that's what I keep telling myself as I slog slowly through every single thing I'm doing these days.

    One of the reasons I signed up for a hard core dance class was that I knew I'd have to have SOMEONE ELSE making me work out this winter.

  10. Murderati fan

    I don't understand the mentality of the people who love Portland or Seattle. They are both gorgeous, but for limited times. My body yearns for Tahoe blue sky. I live in Utopia. It rarely gets to 95 and even then, the evenings cool down and gentle breezes dance with the bedroow window curtains. It's warm enough to enjoy a gin and tonic and cool enough for Keoke coffee. Ah! the perfect weather.

  11. Alafair Burke

    I've been using my iPad as a personal trainer. A 45 minute television show is a decent amount of cardio even if I'm a little sluggish for some of them. I suspect the only reason I'm enjoying Nip/Tuck is because of the sunny setting!

  12. Robert Carraher

    I can empathize, and the past two years seem like it only gotten worse up here in Oregon. Somehow it saps the energy, even when your work is inside. I have to even psyche myself up to do the dishes, and those certainly aren't outside in the cold, damp miserable weather under a sky the color of Edgar Allan Poe's pajamas. That said, I could really get into you 'Kill The Weather" book, but now I'm boycotting it because of the Bieber Fever song.

  13. CarlC

    Sorry, looks like the link did not come through properly. Guess you'll just have to take my word for it that it's a beautiful image.

  14. Allison Davis

    This is why I have a house in New Orleans. Come on down y'all, it's flip flop weather for Mardi Gras this week and next. I hate the dark worse than bad weather (having grown up in Tacoma/Seattle) so the winter nights get to me.

  15. Debbie

    I don't think weather for me is a problem. Maybe I'm odd but I like indoors and I like outdoors. The problem? The door itself. When I'm at home I can't get motivated to leave, and once out, I just want to stay there. Some of my best outdoor memories were in the most extream weather…getting caught on a ski slope in a snow storm; kissing a guy outside at a fair in a thunder and lightning storm as rain poured down over us, while Elton John played a stadium venue in the background; another thunder and lightning show while I stood on a metal bridge watching fireworks; getting heat exhaustion at a theme park in Florida; setting up a tent in the pitch black at midnight when it was 8C-46F.

  16. Jann

    I grew up in Southern California and loved the weather. Then I moved to Northern Cal and REALLY fell in love with the weather. Yes, summers tend to be foggy and dreary, but when the fog burns off, you can't beat what it leaves behind. The ocean and redwoods are worth it. These days, I can't tolorate anything above 70 degrees…I certainly don't miss running the AC most of the year! However, I do fall into a terrible funk when the days are short – I just want to leave work and go straight to bed. At least we don't get nasty snow and slush. I have to hand it to you to stick out winters in NY.

  17. Rae

    I love both kinds of weather. Cold, wet and gray means curling up like a cat in front of the fireplace. Hot and sunny means curling up like a cat on the front porch. What I don't like is slogging around outside in the wet weather, or being all grungy from marching around in hot weather.

    Basically, I'd always rather be at home πŸ˜‰

  18. Alafair Burke

    Glad to know that at least a couple of people have weather to celebrate. I just got done carrying Duffer out in the gray, dreary rain. I told him this is what Portland is like because he's only been there during the summer πŸ™‚

  19. Eika

    I love it when I can open the shades and have enough light to see by. Natural light just has a quality to it that electric light doesn't. And here in NH… well, snow, clouds, snow, sleet, snow, freezing rain, snow. *sigh*

  20. lil Gluckstern

    How is Duffer doing? I live in Northern California, so I can't complain-much. We are pretty spoiled. Anything over 75, and under 40 has us moaning. It's really lovely until it rains for 15 days straight, and we have some small earthquakes to remind us of where we live. Maybe checking on the weather, and worrying about it is in our hunter-gatherer DNA, or farming. It seems like it's always a good topic of conversation. I hope Duffer gets better soon, and the wather turns to Spring soon. It is almost March.

  21. Reine

    ZoΓ«, you probably think each sport has it's own special season too? Like here: Spring/Baseball; Summer/Cycling; Fall/Football; Winter/Basketball?

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