Gentle men and seahorses, winter is upon us! As someone who has spent almost a quarter-century of winters in the upper Midwest, I thought I’d share some of the methods I’ve developed to stay warm and happy while the elements do their thing.
Pro Tip #1: Set your binder on the radiator
…for a minute or two before you put it on! Because damn, you guys, those things can get cold. If you don’t wear a binder, try it with your socks, or your undershirt, or whatever else. It’s the small things.
Pro Tip #2: Take baths!
I realize this may be a controversial suggestion, given that there are bath people and there are shower people. So, shower people, adapt this tip to fit your own proclivities and needs. The main point is that there are few things nicer than HOT WATER when everything else around you is cold and dry. One perk of a bath is that it allows you the perfect time to do all your radical reading and agenda plotting. My copy of Gertrude Stein’s Lifting Belly is still drying out from a little plunge it took into the tub just yesterday. If you really want to go all out, get some essential oils or bath salts to drop into the water—it’ll really make you feel like a queen.
Pro Tip #3: Get the support you need.
Between winter blues and general holiday stress, these next few months aren’t the easiest of the year, even for people with the most wonderful of families. Add to that being a queer and/or trans person, and the question of going home can be really stressful. In Borderlands, Gloria Anzaldúa writes about a former student of hers—a lesbian—who thought that the word “homophobia” meant, “fear of going home.” More than just being a misunderstanding of the word, I think it’s actually pretty poignant. If your family doesn’t support who you are, consider spending the holidays with chosen family instead, or doing both.
Pro Tip #4: Give support where you can.
Keep tabs on friends who seem to be having a hard time, and reach out. Also, winter is a really hard time to be homeless, as many queer and trans folks are. If you can’t afford to donate financially, think about other ways you can share—maybe find a new home for your lightly used winter gear, or volunteer your time to a local soup kitchen. (But rethink giving your change to the Salvation Army…)
Pro Tip #5: Stay active.
Personally, I’m thinking of taking up snowshoeing. Sex also helps. Dancing, too.
Pro Tip #6: Make this chili.
one yellow or white onion, diced
one green pepper, diced
one or a few cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans of beans (kidney, black, whatevs)
2 large cans diced tomatoes (at least one of them should be fire-roasted, if possible)
Done? Okay, now serve it over macaroni and cheese. Just trust. It’s a Wisconsin regional thing (the mac part) that I have really, and I mean really, taken to.
Pro Tip #7: Go forth and bundle!
Winter will be over eventually.