“The sun’s getting cold, it’s snowin’, looks like early winter for us…”

-Gwen Stefani, Early Winter

I know, you’re sick of hearing about the “Arctic Blast” that has affected almost every part of the country this week.  But what I think everyone who doesn’t live in the South needs to know is,  it’s way worse for us.  Today is beautiful.  Carolina blue skies… sunny.  But it’s really cold.  Like 8 degrees cold.  Yeah.  Feelin’ pretty sorry for us aren’t you?

I walked outside to take this picture.  In the cold.
I walked outside to take this picture. In the cold.

But here’s the thing.  We live in the South.  We don’t like cold.  We like it just cold enough to put on a cute cozy sweater and some fashionable boots and sit around a fire pit making s’mores.  About 50 degrees would be perfect for such a scenario.  Anything colder than that just isn’t acceptable.

Most of the people in my part of the South are actually transplants from up north.  My husband left upstate New York for college.  His college requirements?  Some place with palm trees.  (He ended up at U.G.A., close enough).  Some of the transplants left for the lower taxes, the job opportunities…  but really, most of them left the frigid dreary north for the beautiful southern weather.  Today, they are feeling like they’ve been duped.

I know there’s a lot of people laughing at us Southerners right now.  They think we’re wimpy, we don’t have the grit and fortitude of our heartier neighbors north of the Mason Dixon line…   but our panic and confusion during a cold snap has nothing to do with toughness.  It has more to do with expectations.  When you live in the South, you don’t have cold-weather gear.  My son has worn shorts and a hoodie to school every day this year.  I don’t think I could find a matching pair of gloves if I tried.  We don’t own scarves unless they are meant to accessorize an outfit.  Snow boots?  Ha!  First, they aren’t cheap.  Second, they aren’t easy to find down here.  Third, why would I spend money on something my kids may wear once every other year?

We’ve had a few snow days over the last few years.  Usually a snow day means my neighbors and I calling each other to see what gear we have left over from previous years.  We all trade and piece together boots or snow pants that our kids have outgrown.  Usually this means that one of my kids has real boots and the others make do with plastic bags tied around their tennis shoes.  Then, my husband tries to make a make-shift sled.  This never works and my kids just end up sharing sleds with all the neighbor kids.  Two Christmases ago I finally purchased two “snow discs” for my kids to use for sledding.  They have not been used yet.  If I went out and bought boots for all three kids, you can pretty much guarantee that it won’t snow until all of my kids have outgrown them….

Some of the schools in our area were on a two hour delay today.  Not a drop of moisture in the air.  The reason for the delay?  Because it’s too freakin’ cold!  A lot of the kids waiting at the bus stop at 6:45 am don’t own real winter jackets.  No one in my family has anything with the words “North” or “Face” on it.  The jackets we do have probably don’t even classify as coats.  They are meant for chilly weather, not ridiculously cold weather.  We live in a part of the country where we make day trips to the mountains to go snow tubing so our kids can experience the snow.  We occasionally get a big ice storm or a decent snow storm.  But then we will have a few years of mild winter weather.  It’s nice.  We like it that way.

So we may not have a foot of snow or power outages like our northern friends (seriously, I hope everyone is staying safe and warm), but we are freezing down here.  We are piling on layers of light weight sweaters and dashing from our cars in to the store to buy more bourbon -I mean hot chocolate- to keep us warm.  We will get through it.  We will complain and whine but we will survive.  The good news is that this Saturday it’s supposed to be a comfortable and much more reasonable 57 degrees.  We can go back to our normal way of life.   So, make fun of us now.  Laugh at our thin blood and frozen un-protected hands.  But in a few days, we’ll be back to riding our bikes, playing outside, enjoying this beautiful southern winter.  In a few days we’ll think about the cold weather we just endured and consider investing in real coats.   In a few days we’ll look back on the few days of cold weather and laugh at ourselves.

Bet a southerner made this meme….
Bet a southerner made this meme….

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“I guess what I’m trying to say is I need the deep-end, keep imagining meeting, wished away entire lifetimes, unfair we’re not somewhere misbehaving for days” -R U Mine, Arctic Monkeys

Bad. Ass.  Sums it up, the new Arctic Monkeys album released last week.  I was expecting to be non-plussed.  I just couldn’t get into the earlier songs by the best selling debut artist in British Music History.  They weren’t my cup of tea (lame british reference).  I decided to give it a listen since they will be playing the Midtown Music Festival and I am humming with excitement about going.

The first song I listened to was “Do I Wanna Know”.  I’m hit with a marching drum beat, a guitar sludging out a haunting melody.  “Have you got colour in your cheeks?”  Hmmm….    Let me just say I’m a sucker for a hard drum, a gritty guitar, and a british accent.  This song can’t be listened to loud enough.    Taunting and desperate at the same time, “Have you no idea that you’re in deep”,  “Crawling back to you, ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?  Cause I always do…”  desperation never carried such swagger.

“Arabella” has a 70’s rock vibe.  The chorus has some Jimmy Page – Robert Plant style back and forth that makes you sit up and take notice. “My days end best when the sunset gets itself behind/ That little lady sitting on the passenger side/ It’s much less picturesque without her catching the light/ The horizon tries but it’s just not as kind on the eyes.”  It’s a kaleidoscope of words and music that comes together in an unexpected way.

“No. 1 Party Anthem” offers a departure.  I can’t help but picture a bubble haired girl leaning her head against some guy’s chest as they sway, popping bubble gum  in melancholy unison.  A doo-wop style song about the last ditch hook-up before the club lights come on.   An ironic song, it still comes across as heart-felt.

“Knee Socks” immediately brings to mind David Bowie’s “China Girl”, yet somehow shedding the cheesiness that you would think would accompany such a comparison.  The traipse through a rainy afternoon frolic ” Well you cured my January blues, yeah you made it all right, I got a feeling I might’ve lit the very fuse you were trying not to light” eventually evolves from China Girl to Ziggy Stardust with a delicate layering of ethereal crooning over a jaunty chorus.  The unexpected is welcome.

I couldn’t help but include “R U Mine”, not technically on the new album, but released as a teaser,  a prelude perhaps, and a song I can’t get enough of.  A little slicker than “Do I Wanna Know”, but heavy hitting all the same.  Fueled with desire and angst, it is driven by lyrics that come like a barrage of bullets.  The music tries to keep up with the fierce urgency of the ultimate question, “And the thrill of the chase moves in mysterious ways, so in case I’m mistaken, I just want to hear you say you got me baby, are you mine?”

This album had me with the first pounding drum beat, but as I listened and heard the fervor that accompany’d the narration, I was hooked.  Lyrics often get lost or overshadowed by the music, not here.  The sheer talent to bring together music and words in equal standing…  that’s the bliss point.