As many of my readers probably know, I attend writing groups that Nerissa Nields runs. She always starts her groups with a writing prompt. The prompt can be a poem, or an excerpt from prose writing. In October she read from  This is One Way to Dance by Sejal Shah. The book is a memoir told through essays. I haven’t read it, but I would like to.

Nerissa’s prompt dealt with Shah’s feelings about the cold. To escape the cold, she goes so far as breaking into an unlocked car to find something warmer to wear. I am posting the free writing I did in response to the prompt from Shah’s book.


I hate being cold. In the summer when we use air conditioning, I often sleep in a winter nightgown and use a heavy blanket.

In the fall of 2009, we spent a month in NYC. It was a busman’s holiday since we were both doing research. Despite that, we also got to enjoy the city. Fall weather in New York can be very unpredictable. One day – 75 degrees, the next below 60.

I got dressed one morning to go to the 42nd library for a day of research. The previous day it had been warm and sunny. Dressing for the last battle, I put on capris and a short sleeve shirt. I didn’t even bring a sweater, something I usually do. I was already cold before we even got to the library. The building was freezing. I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t get warmer. Eventually we left.

Being physically uncomfortable and not being able to settle in your own skin is extremely unpleasant. Acute or chronic pain as well extreme temperatures can produce those unpleasant feelings. I have experienced all these things at various times in my life due to accidents, illness and not dressing properly for the actual temperature. All these experiences show me how deeply connected the mind and body are.