January 8th, 2014 (Cold Bad!)

by Steven Townshend

City Guts


Yesterday it was cold. And the day before that it was colder. The day before that–before the deepest cold settled in–I ventured down to Lake Michigan to capture a video of the winter landscape. But the snowdrifts on the beach were deeper than I expected, and I plunged through them up to the thigh. My thigh–which is higher up than the average thigh. Deep.

I needed to use the camera so I wasn’t wearing gloves, and caught myself with my bare hands. With the wind fierce as it was, by the time I made it to the top of the icy rampart at the edge of the lake I could only withstand a few seconds’ capture of the torpid steel-colored water, undulating in ice-encrusted waves. Before the lake freezes it moves like this, so slow and sluggish, mesmerizing in the rise and fall.  It was something to see.

I ran home, stumbling through (yet more) snowdrifts, and by the time I reached the gate I could no longer feel my fingers. I reached in my coat pocket in search of the keys and felt the vague impressions of solid objects in a mass, but had no sense of their shapes, edges, or teeth. I turned out my pocket in order to get at them, so as to identify the ends by sight, and after a few attempts I aligned the key with the lock and made for the warmth of the garage. The following day the temperatures reached -40 (including the wind chill). I didn’t open the door.

The lesson: “Cold bad.”

Fire bad too, but this we knew (thanks, Frankenstein).


It’s not as cold. A balmy 0 degrees outside the front door this morning. Before that, a cat leapt on my back and chewed on my hair for two minutes. Which I allowed, because I was curious to see where the situation would lead. From this experience I learned absolutely nothing.


The Winter Wonderland Workshop for movement and combat education is my favorite event to attend without participating. While Elizabeth learns how to (safely) brutalize other human beings with fist, broadsword, and <ahem> lightsaber, I get a weekend outside my regular surroundings to write, reflect, and relax.


Downton Abbey. A show at which I alternately gasp, laugh, or weep. At first I didn’t understand why. But I have a hunch it’s because the characters all want things, and the show is about them wanting things, and how much they want things. They want these things so well that I too want these things for them.

One of my friends said she was surprised that I liked that show–but I love it for the same reasons I loved Battlestar Galactica (though there are slightly fewer killer robots in Downton… so far).

Stranger Than Fiction

The setting: frozen apocalyptic urban wasteland.

Saturday night: Did a 180 in an icy intersection.

Sunday: Near-frostbite.

Monday night: A glass globe from a ceiling fan fell 14 feet and shattered on the floor beside me.

2014… Action movie or a horror film?