Some science bros in Britain have declared this week to contain the single most depressing day of the year, what with the return to work, that rapidly drying fire hazard of a Christmas tree and these lousy caucuses making all of us pay heed to the opinions of 1 percent of Iowans. It’s easy to spend the few daylight hours feeling sorry for yourself and watching Arrested Development over and over again. Nay! Rage rage against the dying of the light! Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of things you’ve missed all year.
1. Spend a free weekday at Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Nature and sunlight are keys to beating back the January/February sads. If you don’t mind the brisk weather, you can have the whole garden practically to yourself: a beautiful tree-lined oasis in the middle of a busy borough.
2. Warm your tuchus by a fireplace coffee: Might we recommend the adorable and cozy House of Small Wonder in Williamsburg? It doesn’t have its liquor license (yet), but this blink-and-you-missed-it coffee shop is a hidden gem in the occasionally overbearing ‘burg.
3. Compete in the Punderdome: Described by Eileen Reynolds of the New Yorker as a “potent cure for the weekday blues,” we’d add that it is also a soothing salve for the winter dumps. It’s a monthly event, and several hours in a warm bar spent trafficking in witty repartee and concentrated silliness will help burn through these sad days. Also, you might be competing against Team Brokelyn members Faye Penn, Conal Darcy (reigning second place) and Tim Donnelly (former champion). Winter is punning.
4. Try the pay what you like restaurant in Williamsburg: and reward these people for a beautiful idea that says loads about what New Yorkers are willing to do for each other.
5. Patronize the hell out of your local bookstore: A warm bookstore on a cold winter’s night is one of the best places in the universe, next to a bouncy castle on the moon. All your local stores have loads of free readings, author appearances, book clubs and lots of other things to keep you warm (often with free wine!). And books! Read them! They’re good for your brain! You know you won’t want to read anything with more than 50 pages once that brutal summer sun returns.
6. Cook lots of things! Did you know it’s cheaper to make bread, yogurt and pasta sauce at home? This winter is your time to find out. Bonus: Your oven is a better way to add heat to your apartment than that trash can fire you started.
7. Hole up in a cozy theater and become a cinephile: Brooklyn is amid a renaissance of indie theaters. Why not spend your money there this winter? OK, it’s not quite free, but some of the theaters have cool free events. You can go back to the 50-screen megaplex when the superheroes return to the screen in the summer. You can also see free movies at lots of bars and other venues.
8. Donate blood, feel warm inside: You’ve been scared to do it before but this winter is the time. Not only do you help save a life, you get free swag (movie tickets, cookies, etc). If you’re scared of needles, it’s no more painful than a flu shot. If you can get a flu shot and not donate blood, that means you are more concerned with avoiding a mild illness for yourself over saving the life of a stranger. Harsh, brah.
9. Stay in shape, indoors: You’ve got a ton of free online workouts. Don’t let that “it’s too cold to go to the gym” excuse turn into a reason to eat 45 packages of Joe Joes all season.
10. Plan your escape from New York: Flight prices drop dramatically in the winter. If you don’t know, now you know.
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