The new year is seven days old and already we're in the throes of malaise. I'd like to go shopping - we're looking for a new TV and maybe a new laptop for me - but it's too cold to go out. Being too cold to go out is the new, all-purpose excuse for everything. Shopping? Too cold to go out. Go visit friends? Too cold to go out. Go for a walk and burn off the shitload of fried fish and bratwurst I consumed during the five weeks the Christmas market was open? Too cold to go out. Plus I need this extra layer of fish and bratwurst fat to insulate me from the cold. I'd like to use the too-cold-to-go-out excuse for things such as why the oven is scrudgy inside and why my laundry is a bit backed up but no one's buying it.
But it is terribly cold out. Overnight it gets to be -20°C which is enough to make all the news programs foam at the mouth about how Arschkalt it is outside and makes my Ukrainian neighbors laugh their asses off at our pansy-ness.
I limit myself to venturing outdoors once a day - twice if I forget to take the trash out with me the first time. I go start the car to make sure the battery doesn't freeze up. I'm not sure if this actually helps but it makes me feel useful and important. While I run the car I sit in it shivering and wishing I had a cigarette to pass the time but that would be bad and very wrong of me so I simply sit and feel my booty growing numb despite any layers of fish and bratwurst insulation. After my Toyota's engine has been invigorated I pick my way over to the bakery for the day's bread. My insane fear of slipping on the ice and dislocating my elbows - which isn't all that insane since I once watched a former workmate slip on ice and dislocate her elbow - has me walking as though I'm 110 years old and am holding an orange between my knees.
Once home I burrow in like a hedgehog and entertain myself by wiping down the condensation on the windows a dozen times a day, making various cold-day-cuisine dishes (chili! beef stew! goulash!), and watching the thermometer fall. Watching it sink by 1.7 degrees in 20 minutes as we ate supper was a high point. Conversation in my home now features topics such as speculating about how frozen the Elbe river is (I live about four blocks from the Elbe - I could just walk over and see for myself but it's too cold to go out) and congratulating myself on how my sufficiently stocking up on groceries has enabled me not to have to go out in the cold.
And it's only early January. Heaven help us.