Set In

IMG_4931It hit me today. Winter, I mean. Of course, I’ve known it’s winter for a month or so and there has been a little bit of snow and some ice and a lot of cold temperatures but I was fine. Really. I had words and good company and my new espresso maker. I had comfy sweats and hoodies and warm socks.

Yes, I was fine.

But today the skies are gray and my toes hurt from freezing and thawing and freezing again and it all feels like a bit too much.

When I was little and my mom and I were at the cabin, we would sometimes watch storms roll in from across the lake. They came through fast and moved on quickly, leaving sunshine and wet grass in their wake. But sometimes, I’d wake up to gray skies and slow and steady rain and find my mother staring out the window. She’d turn and say, “It’s set in for the day.” Set in. Temporarily permanent.

That’s how winter feels today. I know it’s not going anywhere for awhile – I’ve known all along – but today I feel it. My body aches a bit more and my worries feel a bit heavier.

I texted a friend earlier and said that I needed a cabin, a wood burning stove and a good book. Winter always feels more manageable in those circumstances. But I’m not at a cabin and there is no fire and I don’t like the book I’m reading. So, I need to make some adjustments.

IMG_4918I’m going to focus on my mug of hot tea and put on warmer socks. I’m going to look at pictures I took at the cabin on the first day of the new year and remember that winter carries its own kind of beauty. I’m going to stare at the snow on the branches of the tree outside my window and hope to catch a glimpse of the cardinals. I’m going to remind myself that I have survived 23 Minnesota winters so chances are good that I’ll survive this one.

I just have to be patient with winter and myself.



emojiI hate going to the dentist. Maybe because when I was eight years old, I had a cavity filled after the Novocain had worn off. Maybe it’s because I had braces and developed dental appointment burnout. Maybe it’s because I’ve reached an age where I feel like I shouldn’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. Maybe it’s simply because I don’t want to put on a bra. Whatever the reason, I usually start feeling anxious a few days before a dental appointment because I like to devote ample time to my neuroses.

On Sunday, I started feeling this low buzz of anxiety running through my daily life and I finally figured out that it was related to my upcoming appointment. For some people, insight helps relieve anxiety. For me, insight leads me to tell every single person in my life that I am anxious.

Things get weird in a text conversation? My response, “You have to understand I have a dental appointment this week.”

Getting dinner on the table makes me snappy? “I’m sorry. I have a dental appointment in a few days.”

Someone asks me to do something? “My schedule is tight this week because I’ll be busy stressing about my dental appointment.”

My appointment was scheduled for this morning at 10:20 a.m. I got Zeca to school and then showered and left the house with plenty of time to drive downtown and find a parking place. I arrived at the office at 9:55 a.m. and approached the desk to check in.

Receptionist: Name?

Me: Vikki Reich

Receptionist: Hmmm. I can’t find you here. R-I-C-H?

Me: No. R-E-I-C-H.

Receptionist: Oh, ok. I’m going to look you up by your name because sometimes I just don’t see things.

Me: I totally understand! Same here.

This, my friends, was foreshadowing.

Receptionist: I found you…but we have you down for Friday at 10:20 a.m.

Me: That can’t be right. I got a card that said 1/6/16 and a text this morning confirming the appointment.

I pulled out my phone and pulled up the text. 1/8/16 at 10:20.

Me: And look at that…Friday, 12/8.

I was two days early for the appointment and now I have to go back on Friday. Sixes look a lot like eights. Probably time to schedule an eye appointment as well.

Welcome 2016

IMG_4918We welcomed the new year at a cabin with our friends – six adults, six kids, two dogs and enough food to last us twice as long as we were there.

We moved together and separately. We went for walks and skied. Some of us worked on a puzzle and others colored while a fire kept us all warm. The kids lay about talking and teasing each other. They made plans and played games and argued passionately and laughed loudly.  They walked to the store for junk food and movies and then went to the basement to indulge. Through it all, I realized once again that they need us less and less and find their way in things together.

IMG_4943At one point, I took a walk on the lake alone and listened carefully to the shuffle of my feet through the snow and the wind through the trees. I stopped and took pictures of ice crystals and footprints, red berries and towering trees. I thought about where my life began and the path leading to the here and now. I thought of growing up in heat and humidity and somehow landing in this place of cold wind and ice.

I’ve often worried about wrong choices and closing doors but I am beginning to understand that life doesn’t work that way. There is only this moment and the next and we make choices and often end up creating a life we couldn’t imagine.

I never imagined that I would move to Minnesota and most days, if you ask me, I’ll tell you how much I hate the cold. But, as I walked on the frozen lake and looked at the sun casting glitter on the snow, I kept thinking about how easily I breathe here.

IMG_4935I don’t have a word for the new year and I don’t make resolutions. I have a few goals that are less about change and more about maintenance. Mostly, I plan to live in small moments, to choose as wisely as I can when faced with decisions, to love with everything I have and to keep doing what I do, believing that everything will lead me towards the good stuff. It’s worked out that way so far.

The End of November

IMG_4760It snowed overnight and continued this morning, which is fitting given that November ends today and December begins tomorrow.

Fitting but still annoying.

It took me twice as long to get Zeca to school today as tires spun and cars fishtailed and all of the stoplights seemed poorly timed for the winter weather.

I generally find fresh snow beautiful. It makes everything bright and clean and the snow covered branches make the city feel quaint and cozy. But today, I didn’t find it beautiful at all and I briefly wondered why I choose to live here. This does not bode well on the first day of true winter weather but I’m sure I’ll rally.

Today marks the end of November and daily blogging and novel writing. I succeeded on both fronts if putting words online and on the page every day is success. I’m not sure of the quality of words in either endeavor but I’ll call it a win regardless.

I wrote 50,288 words of a novel and 30 posts here, plus I wrote every week for the Star Tribune and also wrote for TueNight. That’s a lot of writing. I also ran 25 miles in November which may not seem like much but is so much more than the zero miles I ran last November.

I’ve been busy and tomorrow I’m going to figure out whey I do so much in November and do so little the rest of the time. But that’s for tomorrow because today, I’m going to give myself a break. I’m going to listen to music and read and maybe do a little online shopping.

Thanks to all of you who took the time from your busy days to read and comment. I appreciate it more than you can know.