Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Internet Whiplash. And snow. Not in that order.

It was snowing gently on my walk to work this morning. Something I'd never realized before moving to colder climes was that under the right conditions snow actually falls in tiny, perfect flakes. Cartoonishly perfect. Exactly like those paper ones we cut out.

I think the first time I noticed this was sitting in a car and seeing them land on the windshield in little piles and slowly melt against the glass.

I have this idea that I'd like to take a photo of them, the way I see them as I walk along, against my dark purple scarf. I keep meaning to bring my camera out with me when the conditions are right, but somehow I never do. 


Have you ever gotten whiplash on the internet? What I mean by that is you go along reading your usual list of sites, maybe a clever writer here, a webcomic there, all regular daily stuff, but then someone links to a site that's new to you (without warning, possibly) or they write something out of character and suddenly you are blindsided by grief. 

Yesterday I found myself here, directed from here (not a site I read a lot, but on occasion), and I continue to feel haunted by what I saw and read. 

I am warning you now, it is a devastating story. It starts off breaking your heart and then just gets worse. I'm not sure what I think of making a photo documentary of someone's life in that way. I'm still thinking about it though, and about Julie, which is perhaps the whole point. 

[Note: If you are curious, but worried, you will probably get the idea by following the link and reading the introduction. That part, and much of the rest of it, is safe for work, as they say, but there are parts that are not and there are parts that are just too difficult to really look at regardless of your surroundings.]

It's probably a natural reaction to witness a thing like that and be horrified and then, quickly, to start thanking your lucky stars. To watch your own woes shrink to the size of those snowflakes, and then melt away. It would be nice to think that this change was permanent, that it was a forever kind of thing and that from this moment forth I shall never again be petty or take my good fortune for granted. Oh, but it doesn't work like that. I'm sure I was petty again within about fourteen seconds.

Why is this weirdo standing next to me at the crosswalk, GO AWAY WEIRDO. 

What do you mean you don't have the plum doughnuts? 

The zipper on my tall boots snapped off. The whole world is conspiring against me again, isn't it??? 

It's too hard to be raw and grateful all of the time. But it is good to be reminded. 

I want to say something about the more important reminder, that of human suffering and the cost of privilege (aka "good fortune") and what on Earth can we do about it all? 

But I don't think I can without sounding preachy and being a complete hypocrite. Because what do I do? I try to be kind and mostly I'm wrapped up in my own worries. Like everyone else. 


Walking home from yoga tonight the temperature had dropped. Despite the earlier flurries, the morning really hadn't been terribly cold. That's another thing I learned by moving east; the coldest days are the clearest ones. Sun at the window lulls you into lighter fabrics, more exposed skin, maybe even a skirt. Don't be fooled though, it's a trick. Cloud cover acts as a blanket, trapping the heat. It's better to wear skirts when it's snowing, and snow pants when it isn't. Go figure. 

It actually sounded cold - the drop in temperature meant that the snow was squeaky underfoot. It's quite pretty when it's that cold though. The stars come out, and the places where the snow is left untouched glitters under the streetlights. All those tiny, perfect flakes. 

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