Cardinal rule: if you’re not sure, it’s pee.

When New York City is blanketed in snow, for the first five minutes it’s beautiful. A snowy wonderland, surrounded be people enamored with the fluffy, clean white layer, bringing a calm stillness to the busy city. Quiet, and introspective, and still. And then the snow turns to sludge, your favorite pants are caked in 4 inches of honestly-I’m-not-sure-if-that’s-pee-or-just-dirt and public transit shuts down, despite being removed from the actual weather. It’s a rite of passage to survive a New York winter with boots intact and a red-hot hatred for anyone predicting a “wintry mix.” 

Puddles. Puddles everywhere.

Puddles. Puddles everywhere.

While sidestepping another frozen puddle this morning (see title), I gave a silent prayer of thanks to Hunter boots and a warm hat. I won’t claim to be an expert in New York winters, this only being my fourth, but I have picked up a few tips along the way. Here’s hoping someone can learn from my many, many, winter-related PLDs:

Poor choice: no snow boots

“I think I’m just going to wear my Uggs today, they’ve probably cleared the snow.” Nope. First, anything that isn’t waterproof is a poor decision. Never assume the streets are cleared because normally they’re not. And never, ever think that Uggs are an acceptable choice for a snowy day or the days after. They may be comfortable, but those little shoe-monsters are the WORST in the snow. They’re slippery, they’re terribly uncomfortable when they get wet after stepping through the unavoidable street puddle and they’re impossible to clean. It’s worth spending the money on Wellies or snow boots or basically anything that isn’t suede Australian fluffy boots (because all things considered, the Aussies really know about snow).

Poor choice: No doormat.

I am embarrassed to admit that it took me three years (plus) to get a doormat in my apartment. Before this past January, I just tracked that dirt and nastiness THROUGH MY BEDROOM to my shoe closet. Shudder. It took waking up one morning to find the cat licking a puddle that had formed around my rainboots to realize that something needed to change.  One trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond and $20 later, I am the proud owner of a doormat that catches all of the nastiness of outside and keeps it contained. Life changing? Yes. Yes it is.

Actual game changer.

Actual game changer.

Poor choice: not checking the weather.

On average, I’m outside and walking for at least 45 minutes a day. The last time I skipped the glance at my weather app, New York had one of the biggest snowstorms of the season. Walking home from work in 10 inches of snow was a treat. I was in a lighter winter coat and Uggs, sans gloves or umbrella, and to top it all off, my entire block was un-shoveled until the next day. We all have smartphones now. Just check the weather.

As we’re posed for even more snowstorms in the next week, I can almost guarantee I’ll do something to inspire a Part II on this. Until then, enjoy the snowstorm and don’t eat yellow snow. Or, if you’re a New Yorker, just don’t eat snow.

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The worst decision.

Heading home from a long day of drinking last night, I stopped for a minute to reflect on the absurd weekend I’d just had. In 72 hours, I’d met two fabulous drag queens and surprised them at their drunk brunch show, been lost in 3 neighborhoods, exercised for exactly zero hours and currently had three different boys texting me  after being a bit too loose with my number at the last bar. As I leaned my head back and tried to ignore the fact that this was rapidly becoming the most expensive cab ride I’d ever taken, I knew the hangover, the growing bruise on my leg and the hit my already-broke bank account took this weekend were all worth it. This was the stuff I’d look back on in twenty years and remember. Well, mostly remember.

I paid the cab driver the massive fee I’d racked up getting from the West Village back home to Washington Heights, stepped over one of my neighbors passed out on the stairwell and made my way up 5 flights of stairs to my apartment, all while in 4-inch kicks, insides saturated with mimosas, beer and bad food. Collapsing onto the couch like I’d run a 10K, I gave the cat a head rub and thought about where I was for the Super Bowl last year: snuggled up with my then-boyfriend of three years, blissfully unaware of the 12 months of heartbreak ahead of me, only aware of the fact that we were slowly talking about moving in together and thinking maybe, just maybe, he would propose on our trip to Aruba that next month.

When a relationship falls apart, it’s not like a movie montage, a blurry series of painful moments and over in a flash. Living through those moments feels like wading through mud uphill, trying to catch his hand as he runs, runs, runs away. The worst decision I ever made was to fight for a relationship when he wouldn’t fight with me. I spent months fists up, giving him piece after piece after piece of myself, desperate for him to love me in the way I wanted him to, needed him to. When he finally snapped, screaming at me that he didn’t want the things I wanted, I could feel the pieces of my heart he held crumble, slowly blowing away, like a whisper in a crowded room. Finally walking away from Us took every piece of courage and strength I could muster, and I spent the next 24 hours in a daze, unable to feel anything unless I was feeling everything.

After just a few days, I started feeling something else that I wasn’t expecting. Rather than finding myself overwhelmed with grief and loss, I felt relief. Slow building and impossible to ignore, relief started flowing through every vein to every limb and every part of myself. I nearly collapsed with the weight of such a feeling, unable to believe that it took just a few days to feel any semblance of normal after nearly four years of an intense and wonderful love. I took that relief and used it to remember all the things about myself that I’d neglected while entrenched in the losing battle for Us, like how much I love pushing myself at the gym and how much I enjoyed living alone.

Back on my couch, the cat nipped at my hand and brought me to the present. The clock said 9:45, but I was drunk, tired and stuffed with free wings and other football fare, so dammit if I didn’t want to go to bed. I sent a quick text to my friend to make sure she was home safe, and then turned my phone on silent, lest the bartender I don’t plan on seeing ever again text me another sweet pick-up line, a follow-up to his opener of “What’s your opinion of tequila?”

It may be an interesting concept, sharing the comically bad decisions of your mid-to-late 20s, but when you’ve already made a decision that caused you to lose yourself completely, suddenly telling people about the drunk 2 a.m. purchase of leather sweatpants, or the not-so-well-received joke about gonads in an internal work meeting isn’t the worst. In fact, it’s pretty funny. And after such a long year of heartbreak and loss, funny is exactly what I need.