For the uninitiated, here are some clues that you’re in over your head:
1. Since the first of the year, you’ve spent more time at home than you have at work or school. This includes snow days and also sick days, due to the flu you caught from all the germs floating around in close quarters. You’ve also run out of Kleenex, and your nose is raw from blowing it in pages torn from the Ikea catalog.
2. You’ve had some kind of weather-related car trouble. Hopefully, this trouble has been minor. You’ve been stuck in a snowbank, you’ve blown out a tire in a pothole, or you’re nursing a serious case of carpal tunnel from flipping off other drivers, none of whom seem to possess winter driving skills.
© Kara LaReau
3. You have dispensed with basic hygiene. Your car is buried under another foot of snow, so you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Why bother changing out of your pajamas? Why brush your teeth? Why shower? You convince yourself that all of this extra funk holds in your body heat. Hint: It doesn’t, and you stink.
4. You’ve been drinking a lot. Because what else is there to do? You’ve binge-watched your way through the Netflix canon, your eyeballs are dry and red from all the time you’ve spent online (usually writing snarky status updates about the weather), and you feel too gross (and sore from shoveling) to get busy with your significant other. By this point, you’ve finished the wine and beer and top-shelf liquor. You’re down to a bottle of crème de menthe, which you also use as mouthwash.
5. You’ve also been eating a lot. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if most of your regular clothes feel tight, since all you’ve been wearing lately (and will wear for the foreseeable future) is a sweatshirt covered in pet hair and saggy flannel pajama bottoms. All you want to do is cook and bake and stuff your face, because food is warm and comforting—and so is standing in front of the oven.
6. You’ve made a failed trip to a hardware store. Even if you’ve managed to clear off your car, navigate all the potholes and snowdrifts and black ice and bad drivers, and find parking, good luck scoring a space heater, a generator, rock salt, or a roof rake (if you don’t know what last one is, you’re lucky). From here on in, if you can’t get it through Amazon Prime, it’s not worth having.
7. You’re facing a waste management problem. Trash pickup no longer comes on its scheduled day, and when it does come, good luck getting the trash cans over the snow banks and out to the curb. As a result, your porch is littered with bags of trash and recycling … most of which is empty liquor bottles and broken-down Amazon boxes.
© Kara LaReau
8. You’ve become a terrible parent. You’ve exhausted every clever cold-weather kids’ activity. Lately, your toddler’s main form of entertainment has been a handful of popcorn kernels rattling around in a taped-shut Tupperware. At what might be your lowest point so far, you will eat the popcorn, curl up in the fetal position, and allow your child to watch eight straight hours of Caillou.
9. You’ve forgotten how to interact with the world. You’ve canceled any appointment and declined any invitation that doesn’t feature off-street parking. When you do see someone you know, you throw your arms around them and burst into tears. The mail carrier and UPS driver are now afraid of you.
10. You’re not that upset when the flooding starts. When the snow finally (finally!) starts to melt, the water is not only in your basement; thanks to the ice dam on your roof, it’s coming in through your windows and light fixtures. But you convince yourself that, like you, your house is merely crying with joy.