what we talk about when we talk about the weather

May 27th, 2011

Most of you don’t live with me. Which is probably a good thing. You might think I spend my days talking about Adam or Mia or the next batch of characters—and I do talk a fair bit about them, which actually drives my poor husband NUTS; he couldn’t care less. They are fake people to him—but what I really have been talking about, incessantly, is this: The weather.

It could be because we had a winter that looked like this:

Followed by a spring that was cold and pretty much nonstop this:


So, basically, for the last two weeks, when we had a Biblical deluge, this was me on a daily basis.

Wakeup. Check National Weather Service online forecast, which the day before might have been calling for partly cloudy skies and now was calling for 90 percent chance of heavy rain. Moan. Tell Nick I can’t hack it anymore. Look at another website in hopes of getting a different forecast. Hit refresh on the forecasts. Maybe they will change their minds. This went on for weeks. It got to the point I was thinking of leaving the City, hunting around for new cities to move to.

But the thing was, just as a cigar is often not a cigar, the weather is not really about the weather. Why do I get so frigging upset about the weather? It’s not like a tornado tore through here. (Actually, that did happen last year. Here’s my nabe. But no one got hurt.)

But now that it’s sunny-ish, I’ve come to understand that when I was bitching and moaning and kvetching about the weather, I wasn’t really talking about the weather. Here’s what I was really talking about.

I’m Going To Kill This Rain====Translation====I’m Lonely
Rain keeps us indoors, isolated. Writers spend pretty much all of their time like that anyway. So the post 3 pm hour when I get my kids is, during the warmth of springtime, when we go to the playground. They run around and get their yayas out. I talk to grownups about things that have nothing to do with publishing. After a winter of hibernation, and daily hibernations at my desk, to have to come home each day to spend a day alone with cabin-fevered kids, playing referee while they see who can tear more of the other one’s hair out, well, the CIA should develop this as an “enhanced interrogation” technique. Terrorists would sing like babies

I Want To Fire Whoever Is In Charge Of The Weather======Translation====I’m Powerless
Writers are such bizarrely powerful/powerless people. I mean, the only people we have any real power over are fake people. Our characters. They do our bidding ahahahahah. (Of course, truth is, we really do their bidding, but really, if we were tough, we could force them to do whatever we wanted. Hear that, Adam and Mia!!!! I rule you, not the other way round!) But the truth is, all we control is our work. Then it goes to our agents and our publishers who do wonderful things with it, but we are often out of the loop and even when we are in the loop, we are out of control. How a book does, if readers notice it, like it, if it gets made into a movie, etc. all of these things are so out of your control. Just like the weather. But you want to have some power. You want to be able to control more. Just like I want to be able to go the Head Climactic Office and tell the person in charge that they blew the winter, screwed the spring and are totally fired! But I can’t. It’s maddening. Like the weather.

This Winter/Spring Broke Me. I Hate New York========Translation=====I Hate The Book I’m Working On
I swear, when the work is going well, NYC seems great. It feels like you are part of the creative flow of the city. But when my novel is turning me into a crying little girl, I hate the big bad city. Just put me out there with the garbage. Or send me somewhere kinder, gentler. But also not rainy. Where is this mythical place? See, generally, I do LOVE this city. The energy. The community. But I hate that everything is so hard, from finding a parking space to getting a babysitter, to going grocery shopping, so you just feel tapped out when your novel is kicking your ass, too. So when the weather does this, it’s like, whoa, city. We had a deal. I’d put up with all the crap: expenses, taxes, crowds, rats, small living spaces, bankers, etc. and you would not throw too many curveballs. I steadfastly stayed through 9-11 and Anthrax at my husband’s office, but Buffalo New York weather downstate? Then I want Buffalo prices!

I’m So Cold=======Translation====I’m So Cold.
I really am cold. I run cold. Our apartment never gets that hot. I’m like a lizard. I want to soak up the heat in my skin. Come July when it’s 90 and humid (please let it be 90 and humid; if it’s a cold summer, I really am going to lose my shit) I will be the happy girl at the city pool.

Anyhow, it’s been a winter and spring of true disasters, from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan to weather-related killer storms all over the United States. My problems are, as they say, velvet problems. It’s just the weather. And with global warming, we really have bigger fish to fry. But I think that’s where the real terror comes in. Is this past year’s weather crazy because the weather’s crazy and this is just a wacky seasonal fluctuation? Or is the weather crazy because global climate change is happening this extremely already, and we are just the frogs in the pot, letting the water get hotter while politicians argue about whether the water is water or some other wet, watery substance.

Talk about feeling powerless. Talk about wanting to fire someone.

  1. This is such an incredible post. The weather has been hard for me this year, too, mostly because I lived in the north for the first time and did NOT understand the massive snowfall.

    I like your translations of your weather angst. Hopefully it’ll clear up soon, and the writing will go better as well!

  2. Hi Gayle,
    Staten Islander here to say ditto to your post!
    But it’s really hot & sunny today so enjoy :)

  3. I really want it to get warmer here in WI too. Its been far too cold. We’ve had temps in the 40s just yesterday!

  4. Gayle “the weather” (or whatever it represents) has kicked my ass this year too, in Oregon. It’s been freezing and raining since December. We must be sick of it if we’re considering moving to LA, right? And try spending your afternoons cooped up in a tiny house with an incredibly angry 13 year old girl. Torture!

  5. It was nice here today in No Cal. I took my dog for a glorious morning hike. I felt wonderful and happy and alive. Then I came home and realized all these novels (not THAT one, Gayle), but all these other ones, need so much work. But I can control that right? Sigh. Better get to work. It’s 9 p.m. out here and it’s just cooling off…

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