Old Thinking: I prefer cold weather to abjectly hot weather because if it’s cold, you can always put more clothes on, but when it’s really hot, even taking off every stitch of clothing you have on won’t cool you down.
New Thinking: How could I have been so friggin’ stupid to think that?
It’s the time of the year when even life-long Chicagoans ask themselves “Why do I live here?” It is a question of particular curiosity for me, because I don’t have a job and could look for a new one anywhere in the world—even God forbid, someplace warm.
The Great Book of Parenting will note that I continue to look for work in this beautiful for 9 months out of the year (ok, maybe 6 months out of the year—check that, 4 non-consecutive months out of the year) place only so my children stay with their friends. I told my 16-yr old that a few months back when she was complaining about the weather, “Hey Caroline, I don’t have to look for a job here. We can live anywhere! Think of the possibilities! I just thought you wanted to stay here and go to school with your friends.” She has not complained about the weather since.
The winter thinking is so perverse that you curse the clear days and think, “If we just had some cloud cover…”
We’ve lived in Chicago for almost 20 years now. The closest I ever came to leaving was one April day in 1997 when there was a freak (!) three-inch slush fall and I had to walk the half-mile home without any overshoes. Tromping through the muck, slipping every third step I muttered first, then shouted once I realized that I’d ruined my shoes “Why do I live here?” The next day a headhunter called me about a job in North Carolina (state motto: Spit Cup Optional). I took the call and very nearly took the job. It wasn’t the weather there that kept me from doing it. It was because two of the people I met there couldn’t remember either their young children’s ages or what grades they were in. Seriously.
It occurred to me this morning that the conditions here today are so severe that they meet even John Yoo’s definition of torture—“an activity that could lead to organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.” Perhaps Amnesty International can get the UN Human Rights Commission to take action to outlaw The Alberta Clipper. Tomorrow’s Chicago Tribune headline: “Dick Cheney Endorses Subzero Temps”. Maybe this is the reason they want to move the Gitmo prisoners to western Illinois—we’ve exposed them to the brutal sun and humidity of Cuba, now it’s time for a little Arctic blast. Tell us what we want to hear or else we’ll take your coat away from you.
But if I didn’t live here, what would there be to complain about? Humidity? Mudslides and forest fires? The federal government’s failure to protect my beachfront home from hurricanes or its attempt to “steal” beachfront property from me by creating a buffer to protect my property from erosion and hurricanes? The fact that sand gets all over the carpeting? Skin cancer and the lack of adequate dermatology coverage in the Health Care Reform bill?
As I look out my window, for about the last 15 minutes there has been a constant flow of Canada Geese flying overhead in their characteristic V formations, headed south to crap on golf courses there. Wave after wave of them, about twenty per group. Honking and mocking me in my overly bundled up, but still not warm state.
No matter which direction you walk in the winter, you’re always walking into the wind.