Friday, January 2, 2009

Blood Running Cold

Most of my adult life, my body has generally run hot rather than cold. When other people were pulling on sweaters and complaining about the chill, I felt just fine in a short-sleeved shirt and shorts. Climate-controlled rooms, where the temperature was kept at a level most people found comfy, have tended to make me sweat. Suits and robes with numerous layers have often been soaked with sweat by the time I took them off. My life has been a constant, uphill battle against perspiration stains and body odor.

So the apartment where I have lived since last spring is quite a change. Ever since I moved here, I have never felt warm enough. While at home, at least, I am constantly shivering and adding garments I didn't used to wear around the house. Even while paying my highest heating bills ever, I just can't get warm. In spite of the new vinyl windows in my apartment, I am constantly assailed by chills and drafts.

For long and long, my normal state of dress at home has been a pair of shorts, period. That and a single sheet has been enough to keep me warm in bed. Turning off the ceiling fan used to be enough to chase away any nighttime chills. My relief in getting home from a hard day's work never seemed complete until shoes, shirt, and socks came off, and the long slacks were exchanged for a pair of cotton shorts. But now, I have learned what it is like to need socks, a shirt, and ankle-length pants. And a heavy quilt at night.

I've stopped fighting it. I've stopped waiting for my nipples to get in the way of my typing fingers; I put on a shirt before I start working at my computer. I no longer expect the afghan on my couch to keep my feet warm while I read; I drag on a pair of socks, even if I only took them off to let my toes breathe for a bit. I no longer impress my cats with the glory of my well-shaped legs; I wear a pair of sweat-pants or long pajama bottoms whenever I'm in.

I have toyed with the idea of shopping for grown-up-sized footy pajamas. I have considered switching to long-sleeved T-shirts. I have even seriously thought about wearing cotton gloves in bed. It's bloomin' freezing in my bedroom at night.

And, I might add, I don't remember ever living in a place where the hot water took so long to come. Based on how long it takes to warm up my shower in the morning, I would estimate that my building's boiler is located somewhere east of Effingham, Illinois. And until the water in it gets to my faucet, what comes out is effing cold. So I've started another new habit: running water in the tub while standing outside it, on the bathroom rug (because I can't bear the frigid touch of the bare floor beneath my feet). I've forgotten the last time I lived somewhere I couldn't trust the water - even before it warmed up - to be warm enough to stand in while the tub ran. As for running washing-up water in the kitchen sink? I can sometimes read a chapter of a book while it heats up to a grease-cutting temperature.

I've decided to plan more meals that require baking. I think that may help. The higher the oven temperature, the better.

I may invest in one of those pink rubber hot-water bottles that my grandparents used to put in their bed. I haven't seen one of those since I was about six years old.

My winter outdoor ensemble has developed parallel to my indoor wardrobe. I don't go anywhere, these days, without a hat, earmuffs, gloves, and a long scarf knitted in St. Louis Rams colors. (It was the only style of scarf available where I bought it, except for one honoring the Cardinals...and who watches baseball at this time of year?) I guess my new habit of shivering at the slightest draft has spread from my apartment outward. I'll be needing fuzzy boots next.

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