Monday, December 3, 2012

5 Paris 'Cold and Effects'...

Got glove?
It’s no surprise that at the end of the year, things get a bit colder, though like Christmas, the spring, the rentrée, and the new monthly Rihanna song, we greet these evergreen occurrences with ever-theatrical and amped up shock, bewilderment, and frustration.  "Oh my word, it's so cold in Paris..."  Tweets and Facebook status ensue.

Fortunately, I like the cold.  Never was there a better reason to stay inside in my PJs, and when I do venture out to go running, there’s no fear of heat exhaustion or sunburns.  And who doesn't love snow when it makes the rare appearance?

But in Paris, after four winters, I’m realizing now what makes these colder months in the City of Light a bit more aggravating than life in New York or suburban Philadelphia.  Here's a top 5:

1. Going to the market: In years past, I avoided the market in the winter, which meant I often suffered from scurvy-like symptoms and a lack of adequate nutrition.  This boy needs his clementines.  But browsing the merchandise, carrying kilos of produce, and lugging it back up five flights of stairs is not a pleasant task in freezing temperatures. 

But I found the perfect solution, finally.  I throw on my thermals, grab ten years, and lace up my running shoes.  With markets all over the city, I can easily run to a destination (say, the market at Bastille), load up on carrots and beets, and take the metro home with minimal discomfort.  After a 10k run, a quick trip to the market seems like cake.

2. Being naked (or nearly):  This one goes without saying.  In the warmer months it’s easy to walk around in one’s skivvies without fear of frostbite, but now it’s more difficult.  I've got a wool sweater that I wear all the time and I wear socks to bed, only taking them off for a shower, which itself can be a polar bear swim of its own.  With only two small electric heaters that are by no means free to turn on, I have to do all I can to protect against the elements.  Thank goodness for Uniqlo's Heattech line…

3. Texting: Once upon a time, texts were expensive and rarely unlimited.  This is how I learned to text in the US – just a few each month, as if my phone would run out of electronic ink.  In the winter, I wouldn't walk up Fifth Avenue having a text conversation.  My Parisian phone service however allows me the liberty to text whoever I want in France, and What’s App and Viber make international texting easy as pie.  The problem?  Fingers get cold.  Fast.  Most outdoor texts that I send leave people believing that I am drunk due to the amount of spelling errors that I make while hurriedly typing to get my hands back in my gloves or pockets. 

4. Drying clothes: In America, we have dryers.  We like to expel as much carbon-producing energy as possible to make sure our undies and socks are dry as a bone, and who can forget the smell of fabric softener?  In Paris, it’s a different story.  If you have a dryer, I raise a glass to you.  For the rest of us who have washers, while grateful, the process of drying clothes has become a seasonal puzzle that I’ve yet to solve entirely. 
Winter is coming...

In the spring and summer, open the windows and hang dry.  Done.  In the winter, it’s a delicate balance between turning the heat up yet opening the windows the let out the moisture, or letting the cold dry air work its magic over a few days while I shiver in bed.  In the end, I end up finishing off Mother Nature’s failure with the hair dryer, expelling as much energy as a simple dryer might.

5.  Taking the Vélib: Biking in the cold?  It can happen, with the right amount of scarfs, gloves, and hats to protect you from the frosty wind that blows right through you.  I never even thought about biking in the cold in the US, but here, I’m always tempted. 

If I forget gloves, I alternate one hand on the handlebars while the other warms up in my pocket, each taking its turn getting abused by the numbing air.  The perk is that fewer people bike when it’s nippy out, so there’s less worrisome traffic!  The downside is that my hand isn't always on the bell to ring when needed…

6 comments:

  1. I saw gloves designed for texting on a touchscreen the other day. I'm going to ask Santa for a pair.

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  2. Dear Bryan:

    Oh, how I enjoy your fearless world there in Paris...when your posts pop up at Hip Paris, which I read, I marvel at them for their ability to make me laugh and your eternal optimism is very endearing. Today, reading about your lack of a dryer, I couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't a laundromat in your neighborhood; if so, why wouldn't a short trip there with damp clothes in a duffle, a cup of coffee, and, a book, make your suffering end? The thought of the cold wet socks, just did me in...keep me posted!

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    1. Aw thanks :) Regarding a dryer, yes, there is one down the street, but it also doubles as a makeshift shelter for some shady characters during the cold days, plus lugging my laundry up and down 6 flights of stairs is never a desired task. But yes, I do it from time to time when I'm desperate...so far only once since last winter!

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  3. re: #3, i own these in gray..
    http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=25241001&cm_mmc=SEM-_-Google-_-PLA-_-25241001

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