Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Apparently, our bodies' chemistry changes every 7 years. I haven't done all the research, but this is what "they" tell me (whoever "they" are). Regardless, I think this may be what's happened to me.

Me: the girl who was constantly warm regardless of the frigid temperatures.

Me: who had no problem running outside into the snowy tundra to check the mail or start my car wearing nothing but a tank top and boxer shorts (shoeless). I used to watch in wonder as every girl within sight was bundling up beneath the comfort of their boyfriends' sweatshirt while the thermometer soared to record highs. Perplexed, I'd gently pat the sweat from my brow and wonder if A: I was experiencing early on-set menopause or B: I was really a dude who looked like a lady. Or perhaps I'm just wired a bit differently than most girls, which would actually explain quite a lot.

Kids, things have changed. I've become obsessed with hot pockets. No, not the frozen sub-meals that come with strange cooking directions (the ones that I've never actually eaten - although I'm sure that they're aboslutely delish) - no, not those. I'm talking about actual pockets of heat.

While this has been (mostly) a recent development, it actually planted its roots about 3 or 4 years ago, while I was still working in Washington, DC. Mostly I'd be fine, but moments would pop-up during the day when I'd notice strange occurances: raised hair on the arms, slight shivers up the spine, bluish fingernails... holy crow! I'm freezing!!

I sneak a glance over at Alejandra who is completely aloof, powdering her fore-head and re-applying lipgloss. She doesn't look cold, she looks really comfortable.

I shiver and warp my arms around my waist as Alejandra, still completely unaffected by the sudden and drastic drop in temperature, browses casually through the copy of Vogue that is forever present on her desk (and yes, I will continue to paint this image of Alejandra as a crappy underling, but I will also let everyone know that I was a really crappy boss, and we now love one another like fat boys love cake).

At the time, I didn't own anything to the equivalent of the ugly sweater. No cardigans or zip-up hoodies... I didn't own any of these things because I never got cold. Coats were really only an accessory... at the time.

So I had a dilemma and I needed to fix it. I managed to find little "hot pockets" around the CRNC where I could hang-out for a few minutes and wait for my fingers to flush pink again.The office of pleasant, resident Mormon, Ryan Call worked pretty well because it wasn't really an office. It was our "back room", a storage closet really in which there were no air conditioning vents. While the rest of the office had condensation running from the windows and walls, Ryan's office suffered a musty haze that hung mid-air, and was a full 16 degrees warmer than anywhere else! This situation was great because I could swing back there and talk to Ryan about anything. You see, Ryan was an up-talker and could make you feel good regardless of what the conversation was about. This situation, however, did not last very long because I eventually began to feel really bad about the crappy straw that Ryan had been dealt and couldn't stand to look at him anymore. He would be there at his desk, shoved in a corner behind book shelves and mile-high stacks of membership kits that looked as though they might avalance at any moment. Two refrigerators hummed directly across from him making the room that much warmer. But Ryan would smile, and laugh, and never say a word about the heat as sweat dripped from under his chin and soaked through the back of his shirt. He's the type of person that would never acknowledge how uncomfortable the dripping sweat makes him, not because of pride, but because it might make you feel uncomfortable for him. So... I stopped visiting Ryan Call, for his sake and for mine.

Plan B: Pennsylvania Avenue, sidewalk in front of the CRNC building. DC weather during the summer is always hot and MUGGY. Everything around you not only looks sticky but also feels and smells sticky. So I found it a quick fix to run downstairs and vedge in the 102* heat for five minutes.

This plan was completely de-railed when I realized that creepy Marc (who was a guy with a small office right across the hall from us and whom we called "Rainman") began to schedule his cigarette breaks so that they were synchronized with my warm-up sessions. No further dilineation necessary... although, I could tell you a really creepy story involving Marc, a 30-second long hug, and an invitation to go back to Marc's place and let him cook me dinner. At the time it was really humiliating; now it's just funny and a little gross. Marc (and his office) has since been evicted from the building, apparently.

Oh well. Outside on the street was a little too smarmy anyway.

Plan C: Damnit! This should have been my Plan A!! Why didn't I notice earlier that the women's restroom on the 2nd floor was like a huge toaster oven?! So here became my permanent hot pocket.

The ladies' room had it's downfalls, just like all the other hot pockets - for instance it was always a pain when I got the biting chill at the bottom of the hour and then really had to pee at the top of the hour - but the restroom definitely had the most staying power.

Alejandra used to hassle me about it and of course, at the time, there was still far too much testosterone pumping through my veins to admit my sudden girly coldness, so I just continued to take frequent trips to the bathroom and allowed everyone to believe that I had an incredibly small bladder.

There is a particularly bad chill that I can recall when I found myself curled up atop the toilet seat in my corner stall, rubbing my toes and praying for the circulation to return. I completely lost track of time in my little envelope of cozy heat. By the time I stepped back into the office (which must have been nearly 20 minutes later), Alejandra just stared at me (with Vogue close at hand): "Were you pooping, Moe?"

I winced. It was definitely time to share my secret with her. It was also time to invest in a sweater.

I'm much more brazen about my chilliness these days. You'll almost never hear me comment on being cold, but I always come prepared and my wardrobe now boasts a broad selection of cardigans, zip hoodies, light-weight jackets and ugly sweaters. I also have a collection of blazers that borders the absurd.

So now, here I sit, in the old and musty "Dirty Dancing" resort hotel lobby - just a few feet to my left is the front door and about 15 feet to my right is the outdoor patio entrance. I am eternally grateful every time the doors open, ushering in a brief but warm breeze to parenthesize the 52* atmosphere in between. And, of course, I've come fully prepared with a cardigan (I reserve the ugly sweater for special occasions only).

I'll probably duck into the 2nd floor business center - another hot pocket around here - a little later to type this up and to defrost my poor, frozen self.

Being cold is not anywhere near as bad as I thought - but neither is being a girl.

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