Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cabin Fever

At the risk of becoming redundant, I say again, "Enough is enough." The view from the 14th floor is somewhat obscured just now by the snow coming down. As per the National Weather Service, it is 28 degrees in Streeterville. No news from the Mini since I haven't driven anywhere today. I like snow as much as the next guy, okay? It's just that by the end of February one can get mighty tired of it. I'm ready for that trip to Miami in a little over a month.

Babs had a business trip to L.A. this week and came back last night talking about 75 degree temperatures and palm trees swaying in the breeze. Is not torture prohibited by the Geneva Conventions? Forget what went on at Abu Ghraib. Forget what went on at Guantanamo Bay. This is the real deal. Waterboarding? Hah! People talking about palm trees and warm, soft breezes while the Arctic winds are blowing and snow is blowing sideways past my floor to ceiling windows and bringing visibility down to about 5 feet, now that's torture friends.

Hyperbole? Hyperbole you say! Perhaps I exaggerate a wee bit. It is true that I can see more than 5 feet. I can see the shores of Lake Michigan on the other side of Lake Shore Drive. I cannot see Navy Pier or the concrete barrier before the deep water. This is hot toddies by the fireplace weather. It decidedly is not gin and tonics by the pool weather. I am sick of the weather. I am sick of the cold. I am sick of my winter wardrobe.

I grew up in the South and people there ask me how I survive up North with all of that cold weather. Of course people up North ask me how I survived down South with all of that hot, humid weather. Everybody adapts to their own environment and can't imagine how people can exist any other way. Tell it to the Inuit. Tell it to the Bedouins in the desert. Tell it to the tribes of the jungles in Papua New Guinea. Tell it to those crazy off the grid types in the wilderness of Northern Idaho. On second thought, don't tell them, they'll just shoot at you.

Anyway, the thing is, I've been thinking about how I adapted to living in the North. It wasn't hard really. What it takes is coats (plural), sweaters (mucho plural), assorted articles of fleece clothing (plural), hats (plural), including hats with flaps, gloves (plural), boots (plural), scarves (plural), and one good ear covering device for those hats that don't have flaps. That's just the everyday stuff. There are the specialty items also, special clothes for running outside in the winter, winter sports gear of assorted types such as snow shoes and ice skates. Don't own any skis. Have to rent those if I engage in that activity.

Then don't forget about those adaptations that make everyday life manageable. I've found that a car with front wheel drive or all wheel drive fares much better in the snow and ice than traditional rear wheel drive vehicles. While it certainly isn't a necessity, I've found heated seats to be a real comfort as well on those days that your car has sat outside in the parking lot at work all day. Of course you have to have a good scraper for your windshield and windows on your car and one of those brushes to brush the snow off your car that has accumulated since last you drove it.

When I used to live in Andersonville, before I moved to Streeterville, when I lived in a hundred year old house, before I lived on the 14th floor, there were other tools of winter survival I needed. There was a good snow shovel or two, to clear away the sidewalk, both in front of the house and down the side of the house. I lived on the corner. Steps and porch often had to be shoveled as well. The parking spot in front of the house where I parked my Toyota Celica GT convertible had to shoveled out. I also had to have a big car cover for the GT so the rag top wouldn't get trashed by the snow and ice. Had to put that on every time I parked it. Had to take it off every time I drove to work. Some people used snow blowers for the sidewalks. I cleared snow the old fashioned way, by the sweat of my brow. It was good exercise and it didn't pollute the environment.

Of course here in Streeterville, life is a little simpler. There are maintenance guys from the building to clear the snow from the sidewalks and entrances and exits to the garage. The garage is below the building in the basement and sub-basement and are quite warm, so I don't have to clear the snow and ice off the car or sit in it while it warms up as it's already warm. The garage attendant parks it for me and has it ready for me when I go to work in the morning. Oh and the doorman keeps the Jehovah's Witnesses away. Can't complain about that. How bourgeois!

The point is that in December and early January it is easy to embrace the snow and cold. It's unique. It's a bit fun. You can indulge in cold weather rituals. However, by the end of February, it has ceased being any fun and you're wayyyy ready for it to end and for the big warmup to commence. You're tired of donning all of those clothes just to walk 3 blocks to the gym or the grocery store. Hats and gloves and scarves and sweaters and boots every time you walk out the door. You're tired of scraping your windows on your car. You're tired of having to heat your seats in your car. You're tired of meals by a cozy fire. You're tired of wind chills. You're tired as all get out of your winter wardrobe. You begin to long for the simpler attire of warmer climes and warmer times. How nice would it be to suddenly be able to exit in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops. Underwear is optional. Nobody will know.

That's the state of affairs on the 14th floor this afternoon. It's gray and snowy and cold and decidedly crappy outside. Did I mention the slush in the street? Think Miami. Think Miami. Think Miami........


  1. You forgot the #1 item for living in the great white north: a credit card. Its use comes in handy not only for (kinda) scraping the ice off the windshield but for buying that plane ticket to Miami for the much needed antidote to cabin fever.

  2. Point taken. All of us at one time or another have used a drivers license or credit card to scrape that windshield. Indispensible to say the least.