How to Travel in Snow

‘Tis the season for snow. Since I’m from a place that regularly gets snow (and live in a place that usually does not), I thought I’d help out people who aren’t used to the white stuff (not THAT white stuff) and give you advice on how to walk/drive/bicycle in snow.

When walking:

1.) Wear appropriate footwear.

This would seem to be an easy one, but I’ve seen flip-flops in the middle of a snowstorm. Unless the nerve-endings in your feet have died, you should wear something warm with good traction, like boots. You’ll also want something that’s waterproof.

2.) Walk on the sidewalk, not the middle of the road.

Cars need the road. Cars have less room to stop when it’s slippery. Cars cannot stop on hills because they need to accelerate to a point where they can clear the hill. Cars cannot stop at the bottom of hills because they’ll slide. If you walk in the middle of the road, you’re either gonna piss off a driver, or get hit by a car. Sidewalk not clear, you say? Walk on the snow-covered grass next to it. Speaking of which:

2.) Snow has better traction than ice.

If the sidewalk is clear, great. But if you live in a place that doesn’t see much snowfall, your neighbors may think it never snows and so not have shovels at the ready, or salt. In my home state, homeowners can be fined if they don’t clear the sidewalks in front of their houses. But again, I’m from a place that regularly gets snow.

When driving:

1.) Slow the fuck down.

Remember how slippery it is when it rains and you have to drive under the speed limit? Snow is worse. If you’re going the speed limit on a snowy/icy road, you’re going too fast. On the other hand, don’t drive the same speed as a pedestrian. You still have to make it up those hills.

2.) Snow is better than ice…

Like with walking, you’ll get traction on snow. You won’t get traction on ice. And when it first starts snowing? Slippery as goose shit. Wait until enough of it sticks to the ground to make more than a thin coating of slip ‘n slide on the road, then get in your car.

3.) …except when it’s on the top of your car.

Last weekend, when snow hit hard here, I saw many drivers who cleared their windows of snow, but left it on the hood and (even worse) on the top of the car. Why is that bad? Let’s say you’re driving down the highway, or it gets a little warmer outside, or you have to break suddenly. Either than snow is going to slide onto your windshield, blocking your view, or it’s gonna fly into the windshield of the driver behind you. Again, this is stuff people are fined for in my home state. There’s a reason for that.

4.) Freezing rain? Why are you outside?!

Seriously. If the forecast calls for freezing rain, you’ll have no traction on the roads. None. Zero. Zilch. Stay home, pour yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa, and watch a movie.

5.) Below freezing? Watch out for black ice.

Especially on bridges, where the air is colder. On pavement, it’ll look like a wet spot. It’s not wet — it’s a death trap.

6.) If you start sliding, don’t accelerate or brake. Steer into the turn.

Just like they taught you in driver’s ed, hopefully. Since you have no traction on ice, accelerating or braking will just make your car spin around. You’ll want to avoid that.

When bicycling:

1.) Seriously, wtf are you doing? You’re gonna die.

And now you know how to travel in snow!


A Look Ahead

Happy 2019, everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting this. The holidays tend to interfere mightily with my writing plans. And then I decided to clean my apartment.

On the book front, I started reading In Search of Lost Time last year (the original Moncrieff translation, without any additional editors, since it was cheap, it’s a classic translation, and if I like it, I can buy a more updated version, based on the corrected text, that’s annotated, provided the editor finishes editing all the volumes and doesn’t die before finishing the last book, like Proust and Moncrieff both did).

Professionally, I continue to work on my novel and also found some other writing projects to keep me busy, provided I actually sit down and work on them. It’s too easy to forego writing and start doing some other activity, only to find myself googling random-ass stuff on my phone, or reading someone else’s drama on reddit, instead of working. I also need to kick-start my voice acting career. I even purchases a shiny new domain name and website last year:

Socially, I need to hang out with my friends more and keep in contact with them better through long-form writing (or phone calling) for the ones who live far away. I would also like to take more vacations, even if it’s only a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Still, I’m excited by what the coming months will bring. Here’s to a great new year!

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Writing

Back in middle school, I wrote a short story for my sixth grade English class. In high school, one of the books I read my freshman year made me think about expanding that short story into a novel. I wrote an outline, but then did nothing with it till after college, where I revisited it and began writing the novel itself. Then 9/11 happened. I finished the rough draft and started revising it. The revisions didn’t go well. So I put it aside and went to Japan.

A year-and-a-half into my Japanese journey, I decided to start reading a book my mom had given me. The book was On Writing. The part that stuck with me was when Stephen King wrote that most of his novels weren’t outlined before he wrote them. This reminded me of Mark Twain doing the same thing. Since I already had the novel in my head, maybe I needed to rewrite the whole thing (by hand) so as to avoid the pitfall of being locked into certain plot points happening at certain times.

I started my draft in Japan, an hour each day after work, completed it soon after I returned to the states, and then set about revising it. Then I moved to Seattle. I sandwiched writing in-between apartment and job hunting. The first few years found me jumping from job to job, then to unemployment and food stamps, then to a job where I had to fight for more hours. I still wrote, but not as often. And then I had to move again.

Now, finally, I’m feeling some stability with my job and my living arrangements, I’m in a great relationship, and the novel seems more and more like an albatross around my neck, while it becomes easier and easier to waste time clicking apps on my phone than it is to go on my computer, or pick up a pen, or bring out my typewriter, and revise my work currently in progress, or begin something new. Granted, the lack of sunlight sucks away at my happiness this time of year. But I think the big problem might be the lack of music.

When I was writing my novel at home (though not in Japan), I’d put on some Mahler, since what I was writing was as cataclysmic and angsty as that composer’s oeuvre. Plus, I always write better when I feel strong emotion, either negative or positive. Though I have an iPod (and access to Youtube), I don’t much like headphones, and hate earbuds even more, especially when the music has such a dynamic range that more time will be spent fiddling with the volume control than doing any typing. But now that my partner/girlfriend and I are taking care of a cockatiel for a family member, we’ve had music on for his enjoyment. Mostly it’s pop music (he’s a big fan of Michael BublĂ©, Ariana Grande, and Britney Spears), but last night we put on classical music, and that’s what’s playing as I write this.

The other major problem might be that I’m not the same person who started writing this tale, and so now the story must change to reflect the altered person that I am, a person who shares many similarities with the kid who based his first novel on a short story he wrote for his sixth grade English class, but whose knowledge of and outlook on the world has expanded considerably, and must revise accordingly.

Plus, there’s that damn narrator issue.