I’m a strange dork.
Dorks for the most part seem harmless playthings for the mighty and powerful.
Dorks are pliable and can be pressed in all manners of speaking. I’m a dork, but I’m not pliable. Someone once said I’m a strange and evil little man. That is not the sparkling praise I seek, but it is kinda…true?
For many reasons, my horrid evil personality conveys itself as nonthreatening. I’m a bit forgettable. But I’m a dork and I have many strange habits and thoughts.
This morning it was about 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit in much of the L.A. basin. I realize many of you in truly cold climates are laughing at my portrayal of “biting cold” but in SoCal, that is some cold shit. People walk around here dressed like they are heading into a blizzard. It’s cold for us damnit. So this morning, I took my cold shower which in this weather means that the water is 40-45 degrees, tops. It’s evil but it’s great! I take my normal warm shower, you see. Then I slowly downgrade the hot water knob until it is completely shut off, and I’m tormented by a heavy stream of undiluted cold fucking water. It is evil! It takes practice and you must accustom yourself. I’ve reached the point where my body acclimates within a minute. My physiological thermoreactor kicks in and warmth begins seeping into my limbs from the bloody nexus of my bodily core. Warm blood pulses to my exteriors and for those few moments, the 45-degree water does not affect. My face, my feet, my biceps, they all go numb. But I’m not cold. I do that for about 5 minutes, turn the water off, shake myself, step out. Oh, and during this time, I open the bathroom window so all this cold ass air is blowing in. It’s petrifying but…refreshing. Enlivening.
Cold is a wonderful sensation.
I’m addicted to cold and my cold showers invigorate me and turn me into Spiderman.
They unleash my muscle fibers and lead me to triumph over mortals. Roar. By the time I burst into the 40 degree air this morning, nothing could chill me. By the time I got off the Red Line at Vine, it was fucking cold and I thought, “Hmmm. Let me try this.” You see, when you publicly commute, everything you carry is a burden. I dread winter because of my jacket. If only I could bear the cold without a jacket. During the summer I travel so light. Hmmm.. Right there at the base of that godawful consumerist and wasteful nightmare, the W Hotel, I took my jacket off and stuffed her in my backpack. I walked to work and it was cold. Actually,by the time I got to work, I checked the weather report and it was about 38 in the brazen armpit of Hollywood. It felt it as I walked to work in my t-shirt. As I waltzed along the side streets, I looked down and saw goose bumps. What the fuck are goose bumps? Oh lord.
Goose bumps are created when tiny muscles at the base of each hair, known as arrectores pilorum, contract and pull the hair erect. The reflex is started by the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for many fight-or-flight responses.
As a response to cold: in animals covered with fur or hair, the erect hairs trap air to create a layer of insulation. Goose bumps can also be a response to anger or fear: the erect hairs make the animal appear larger, in order to intimidate enemies. This can be observed in the intimidation displays of chimpanzees, in stressed mice and rats, and in frightened cats. In humans, it can even extend to piloerection as a reaction to hearing nails scratch on a chalkboard, listening to awe-inspiring music, or feeling or remembering strong and positive emotions (e.g., after winning a sports event). Some people have learned to will goose bumps at any time they please.
Piloerection as a response to cold or emotion is vestigial in humans. As we retain only very little body hair, the reflex now provides no known benefit.
In humans, goose bumps are strongest on the forearms, but also occur on the legs, neck, and other areas of the skin that have hair. In some people, they even occur in the face or on the head.
In humans, the areolas of the breasts of females typically show piloerection because of hormonal distribution, for example, when aroused or inside the maternity cycle.
Piloerection is also a classic symptom of some diseases, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, some brain tumors, and autonomic hyperreflexia. Goose bumps can also be caused by withdrawal from opiates such as heroin. A skin condition that mimics goose bumps in appearance is keratosis pilaris.
The key here is the “sympathetic nervous system.”
It’s cold, my body reacted.
Your body reacts, the primal, physiological reaction to the environment. Can your mind overcome that?
If someone asks me if I’m cold, am I supposed to say “yes?” Does the presence of goose bumps mean I’m cold or do they mean my body is cold but my mind is not?
Do goose bumps denote discomfort or suffering?
At a certain point, I developed goose bumps on my walk to work.
I was cold but I denied it. It required effort, which essentially, is discomfort. I suppose.
Your autonomic bodily systems react and your body sprouts an extra layer of fur which is not there. Ha. Beautiful. So in the absence of fur, can you defeat the sensation? Do you allow cold to defeat you? Can you rise above it? Can you summon the internal furnace?
If someone sees my goose bumps do they assume I’m “cold” and all that it denotes?
Better yet, if someone asks me if I’m cold, how do I answer?
Do I say yes?
And it’s up to them to cast a value judgment?
Or do I elaborate?
“Yes, I am cold. But it’s OK. The cold slides off my back. Cold is like an itch to me. If I don’t scratch it, it can be annoying, but I am not perturbed. Yes, I am cold, but I refuse to lend it value or worth. See that chap over there with a scarf and 3 layers of jacketing, or that office worker with the artifical environment set at 78 degrees? They are the ones who are perturbed and weak.”