State of the Union: Weathering Change


Do you ever just have a list of people you totally love? I do. A few members of that list include Carol Wasden, my father and Pete Delkus.

An odd list of people, but don’t even front and say those three aren’t on your lists, too (well, maybe not my father. But who knows, he’s a fun guy!).

The thing is, though, each one of those people has made me inexplicably frustrated within the past few weeks. Why, you ask? No good reason — but if I read a phrase akin to Greetings from warm, sunny Dallas! one more time I may scream.

Do you know a thought that I, a lifelong Dallasite, actually had earlier this week while getting dressed? “Oh, it’s only 31 degrees? That’s not too bad, I’ll skip the fourth layer today.”

Weather in D.C. is notoriously weirder than even Texas weather, which we love to joke is fickle as lightning and twice as inconsistent. Lightning never strikes twice — unless it’s in Texas, where we seem to have crazy electrical storms every spring — and I’m seriously unused to being able to settle into a rhythm of frigid winds that sting your face and make gloveless fingers go numb in under 60 seconds back home in Dallas.

One trick I do have in my repertoire to cope with this weather is the lack of uniform here. It’s pretty crazy to be around kids who wear fabulous clothes to school and think nothing of it when I actually asked my French teacher the other day how people make outfits.

I’m pretty sure she thought it was a joke. Sound the alarm, Hockaday did not prepare me to dress myself creatively every day for four months! This should be a mandatory Y-period assembly!

Leggings, snow boots and layers upon layers of jackets have become staples here. While I tend to change into sweatpants as soon as I get back to the dorms, leggings at least look a little less messy and can be paired with a wide variety of knit sweatshirts and puffy jackets. Fleece-lined leggings are like, next-level gifts that I’m pretty sure should win the Nobel Prize for Physics. They don’t quite stop the biting wind from reaching your shins but they are so. Crazy. Soft.

A good pair of snow boots, or anything with treads, are also a necessity. While my semester missed the snow-pocalypse, we have had a few inches of snow while we’re here (a friend of mine from Boston promptly complained about the lack of snow, while another friend from Georgia took 16 photos in case she never saw this much snow again).

The snow itself is fine, and caused a super fun game of football on the yard of the Library of Congress, but when it starts to melt we have a major problem. It took the only other student from Dallas and I a good fifteen to twenty minutes longer than some of the Northerners to slip and slide our way home from Union Station on the slick sidewalks.

Finally, layers of jackets literally get me through the day. Especially on our formal days, when we meet ambassadors at their home embassies, like the trip to the Israeli embassy we had earlier this week, or welcome guest speakers to our academic building, I can’t stress enough how great layers are.

I’ll be in a dress or a nice shirt for the meeting, usually in a nice, heated room, and nobody is the wiser that I actually walked to the metro in a sweater, a fleece, an athletic jacket and an overcoat. Also, thermal gloves, a scarf and earmuffs. My dad sent me a huge box of hand warmers yesterday and I laughed before realizing I am such a caricature of my Texan self I will probably end up using them at some point very soon.

That’s all for the weekly State of the Union, everyone. Stay warm (I know, it’s so hard to do that in sunny Dallas); in Ela we trust. Until next week,

Maria Katsulos

(Loser of the Race to Walk Home All Four Days the Streets Iced Over Last Week)