Combatting the Cold

December for me means snow, falling and resting on the ground, the sidewalk. It means gloves warm enough to brush it off my car and then touch the frozen steering wheel to guide myself to work. It means the cuffs of my pants frosted in white as I come inside from the cold. But in Busan it simply means cold. Most (if not all) schools do not have heated hallways. They have heat in the classrooms, but it’s only turned on during class and blasted so high that it’s shut off shortly thereafter. My toes are in a constant state of refrigeration, ensuring their freshness. So that’s a plus.

The one thing winter in Busan and Iowa winters have in common is the cold. The first year my wife and I lived here, our pipes burst from the freezing temperatures and we had to go a few days without water. Although it’s snowless, the southern tip of Korea is no tropical paradise. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s four straight months of multiple layers, scarves, and hot packs.

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So here I am, sitting down for an afternoon of writing when I realize that the description of weather I’m writing is mirroring that which I’m experiencing. But in my story it’s an Indian summer, so let the revisions begin! Of course, this isn’t a huge problem, but it does happen fairly consistently with me. Anytime I resume work on a project, I have to reacquaint myself with the writing. Not only must I maintain a certain voice, but I am easily influenced by outside sources. That’s why anytime I write I have to spend a good chunk of time getting caught up with that text. It always evokes that heartsunk feeling to write a solid block and then have to go back and revise or even erase and start over.

In fact, it’s even more annoying than having to deal with cold toes or bursting pipes. Well, maybe not the pipes. The last time that happened, my wife and I had to take a fifteen minute hike up a wintery urban mountain just to have a hot shower at a friend’s apartment. But at least there wasn’t snow.

And now, I’ll think I’ll head back to the warmth of my Indian summer.


Steven E. Athay is an aspiring story designer and connoisseur of all things awesome. Follow him on Twitter at @steveneathay, or read his blog Afflatus.

Neil Fein, the editor of this site, is utterly mortified that this post went up late, despite the writer getting it to him several days earlier than was needed. Despite the fact that he has a job he loves (he’s an excellent freelance editor for hire who can help you make your manuscript even better than it is), he will now go crawl into bed and fall asleep in a pool of despair and shame.

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