Cabin Fever Smells Like Cold Turkey


A few weeks ago we had some snow that didn’t really stick. A few days later I saw a young father pushing his kid in a baby carriage. “Are the sidewalks clear?” I asked and he said … “yes .. FINALLY!”

In January.

He was a very young man.

toronto winter streetcarAnd then of course, along came February and THERE you are, you stinky Canadian winter, with your cold and your snow, and your ice hiding under the snow, and that wind chill. There you are, with the dark days and the early nights, and the winds that howl down alleys. I see you, there, with your mittens glossy from rubbing the snot from your runny nose. There you are, with the old peoples’ fear that one false step might be the one that breaks their hip. There you are with the isolation, and the inconvenience and the broken promises to get together.

The cats and I have Cabin Fever. We’ve had too much winter and not enough sun. We are all cranky, we are sniping at each other, and we are all a little depressed and taking it out on everyone else.

Every year I swear that I’ll go south, oh yes I will, and when I get there, there will be sand between my toes, and sea shells stinking up the balcony, and I’ll be warm and I will float in turquoise waters. Instead, I once again add ‘get a new passport’ to the endless ‘to do’ list, and pretend I’m not jealous when my friends post pictures of their adventures in sunnier climes.

And yet, this is also the time of year when Canadians can indulge in cuddles, all curled up under the covers or on top of the mound of blankets, as we watch crappy television for hours. Too much to do in summer. Winter is for snuggles.

These are the days when it is easy to embrace your inner caveperson, and feel that our lives and our world are stuck in a dark spiral, and that the warmth and light of summer will never return, thereby necessitating the sacrifice of some poor creature whose steaming entrails might appease the sungods.

But we are not cavepeople; we have Netflix.

toronto winter view from IslandI like to pretend that I will use those indoor winter months to organize my life, sort out the detritus of my life, do my taxes, and write something so incredibly precise and on the money that its wisdom and sense will reverberate through the ages ….

.. but that never happens. I’m more inclined to stare fixedly at a wall lined with items that need to be sorted, filed, categorized, discarded or at least moved to another room, and say .. ‘blue.. that wall would look so much nicer in blue …

This year I’ve made a special effort to take breaks from media of any kind. Our civilization seems to be rapidly unwinding, and as the end draws near, it’s best to take frequent respites from reports from the Front. So I’ll often hide away for a day or more, just to give my overtaxed brain and heart a rest. That, and a steady supply of edibles seems to help.

There is an unending stream of political, psychological, and philosophical nonsense constantly coming down the pike. We can debate endlessly, but sometimes in winter, you’ve just got to slow it all down and let the Muppets decide the subject of your column.

Cabin Fever is a real thing. I can’t even imagine how difficult life must have been for people back in the days before electricity, ski resorts, and hot chocolate. I’m gonna guess a lot of winters didn’t turn out so great for some of those little houses on the prairies.

Cabin fever themes have featured in Charlie Chaplin‘s 1925 film, The Gold Rush, Stefan Zweig‘s 1948 novella, The Royal Game, Stephen King‘s horror novel and film, The Shining,’ and a Simpsons‘ episode called “Mountain of Madness.”

In 1984, The Journal of Social Psychology published a study called “The Meaning of Cabin Fever,” based on interviews carried out with a sample of 35 Minnesota men and women, ages 17 to 84.
cabin fever yay snowThe researchers wanted to know how Minnesotans, prone to being forcibly confined to their homes by bad weather for days at a time, survived with at least some salvation of sanity. While four of the respondents thought that ‘cabin fever’ might actually be a mania having to do with wanting to buy a forest getaway, most of the people surveyed were very clear that cabin fever was a condition they had experienced, created by confinement, bad weather, and a lack of stimulation.

Being physically unable to get away from the house and the people inside it made most people prone to depression, boredom, dissatisfaction, irritability, and moodiness.

Having to deal with a bunch of bored children also made the wintertime even more difficult for many respondents. On a ‘snow day,’ parents juggling the needs of the children often found it even more difficult to deal with their own feelings of isolation.

There are coping mechanisms that can help with the winter blues, including activities that can be done inside or close to the home. Some suggestions included resetting your expectations of yourself and others, by tossing out the alarm clock, playing quieter music, or making slow-cooked food. Dig out those board games or playing cards. This too shall pass.

Now, if you happen to live in Toronto, we’ve actually got some stimulation in the form of a bar that is – for reals! – called Cabin Fever. It’s at 1669 Bloor West, near Keele.

cabin fever bloor westSounds like a good hang. One of the reviewers who opined on yelp said, ” what’s not to love about quality vinyl, pinball machines, and tall boy beers for seven bucks, all packed into a little hole-in-the-wall spot??”

I’ve never been to the place, but it’s open today from four p.m. until two a.m. Locals swear by the ‘pinball, beer and music’ mantra. Might be worth a look see.

I’m just glad that February is almost gone, because my stash of chocolate, fudge, and almonds is at a very low ebb. Thankfully my coffee supply is holding up; I’m always grateful for small mercies.

There’s a pothole in front of my house large enough to swallow a large dog or a small car, and the bird feeder is tilting at a jaunty angle. I’ve had enough of winter, thanks. You can bring on the spring any day now … any day now ….

 

 

Can Survivor Cure Cabin Fever? I’ll Ask the Cat


man freezingI’ll admit it – the frigid weather in Toronto is making me a crazy person. We’re having record low temperatures, my cats are in complete (and loud) cabin fever mode, and I haven’t left the house in days. For the first time since childhood, I’m even wearing a winter hat. Sometimes even indoors. This is serious cold.

dandelion smilySpring can’t come soon enough. I need to smell fresh air, and see green grass emerge from under the carpet of snow. I’m even looking forward to dandelions in the lawn. I just need a change of season!

There’s another reason I look forward to spring – the tv networks like to toss us a few new bones to chew on. Since April 2011, I’ve been doing recaps of television comedies, dramas and reality shows for an entertainment site called Starpulse. I’d trade off the unpaid writing as a way to legitimize my television viewing, and it has worked for us so far.

survivor borneoI’ve watched Survivor since the first episode, 15 years and 30 seasons ago. This year marks my ninth season of recapping Survivor episodes. What started as an exercise has become an obsession, it seems. I enjoy the show, and have many friends who do as well, so you might call it my ‘water cooler’ job; I get to chat about some of the sillier aspects, and sympathize with viewers when fan favorites are voted off the island.

A lot of people have nothing but disdain for reality television, and I’d agree that some networks manipulate the course of some series. But we love our scripted and unscripted dramadies.

reality show auditionsMany desperately want to be on a reality series. In our increasingly televised lives, there have been many ordinary people elevated to fame through constant television exposure. Some have done very well; others have crashed and burned.

renovate your wardrobe me and farley(I was on a reality show years ago called “Renovate Your Wardrobe.” It was a lot of fun. But alas, the public didn’t glom on to my smiling face. I got a renovated bedroom, closet, and some new clothing. Would do it again in a heartbeat!)

I’ve never enjoyed the ‘talent shows’ that feature wannabe musicians, dancers, and entertainers of all sorts, but I love the fact that those platforms are available for those who want them. Bless ‘em all for giving it all they’ve got.

sweeping-beach-pulau-tigaMe, I like Survivor, and shows of that ilk. And I am desperate to be somewhere hot and sunny, by a salty sea, even if only in my dreams.

Since I’m down a quart of blog for the week, here’s a link to today’s recap of Survivor: Worlds Apart, Spring 2015. Enjoy!

survivor worlds apart 2015

http://www.starpulse.com/news/Roxanne_Tellier/2015/02/26/survivor-worlds-apart-and-so-it-begin