Monday, January 26, 2009

Brass Monkeys

Now living in Chicago - and even 4,000 miles from everyone - can have its advantages. However, having to live through a Chicago winter year after year is not one of them. It is so cold. And dry. It's hard to feel like a vibrant woman in the prime of her life when you have scales instead of skin for 5 months of the year. Most of the time it brings a wry smile to my lips when I hear friends and family in the UK complaining 'ooh, it was really cold today'. Oh really? What, a couple of degrees below zero? I agree that's a little nippy. But I guess as we have had several days already this winter that are 20-30 degrees below zero, it is hard to sympathise. And much more fulfilling to scream internally, 'COLD? COLD?? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COLD IS, SUNSHINE!'

I don't think the weather actually bothered me that much before I had the kids. Nowadays just the additional time it takes to dress them up as mini Pillsbury Dough Boys is enough to make me lose the will to live. And it's hard for kids so little to take any pleasure from being outside when there is a wind chill of -35. And who can blame them? Given the choice I would simply hibernate from December to April, sit on the sofa wrapped in a blankie, watch movies, eat biscuits and gain 20lbs that I regret with a vengeance when summer finally rolls around and the quilted fashion mode of winter is replaced with the Chicago staple (and no one's friend when you're passed 18) shorts.

And while we're on the subject of winter, I just have a few words to say about, no and no. No, it is not magical. No, it isn't fun and No, it should never be more than 2-3 inches and last more than a week. I have come to the conclusion that proper snow fall should only be allowed in areas where there are mountains and you can spend your weekend falling over a lot on skis. What is the point of all this snow in Chicago, I muse? It's so flat that even finding a slope decent enough for toddlers to sled down is challenging. Mind you, it does bring a new element of risk to even the most mundane task when each dump of snow has frozen solid and you have to negotiate 3ft ice drifts with a wobbly Pillsbury Dough Boy in each hand and only a pair of Uggs to keep you steady, just to get you all to your car in the morning.

I really used to love the snow actually. But I'm over it now. I think a copy of the email that I sent to friends in December explains quite clearly what finally broke the camel's back. And just for those that missed it the first time around, here's a brief reminder of that fateful day...

"Anyone have directions to the nearests loony bin....preferably with a padded room spa?

I need to check myself in for a quick stay. Probably until the first daffodil buds...which in the case of Chicago will be around May.

Have just lost all sanity during a 5 hour school run due to being stuck in a snow storm. Set off at 2pm. Arrived home at 7pm. Both kids still alive (and fairly chirpy). Their mother....less so.

I'm not sure what it was that finally broke my tenous thread of sanity. The journey started off well enough - with mummy wearing her Children's Entertainer hat with pride and a certain aplomb. Maybe it was the game of I Spy. I spy something beginning with 's' - SNOW! I spy something beginning with 'c' - CAR! I spy something beginning with.....yes, you've guessed it....'s'. Repeat for the first 2 hours of the journey. At least Son 2 added an element of surprise to the game, not quite understanding the rules or in fact the alphabet. His turn always started off the same. I spy something beginning with 't' 'g'. Any guesses? It doesn't matter. It could have been anything. Well, apart from anything that began with an actual 't' or a 'g'.

Maybe it was the game of Simon Says. Again, the rules were lost on some of the participants (ie both kids) and really there is only so much you can do when you are strapped in a 4x6ft space before the game degenerates into Simon Says....pick your nose! Simon Says....grab your penis! Simon your boogers! (yes, yes I know, quite the Americans I am raising).

I think the straw that finally broke the camels back was the 3 solid hours of children's stories and children's songs - selected from the more dubious collection housed on my iPod. Now, 20-30 mins of Justin Roberts or Ralph's World I can just about handle. In fact, I have been known to arrive at work still singing tunelessly along when there has not been a child in the car with me for the past half an hour or so. But 3 hours of the cheesiest songs and rhymes sung by those sickeningly sweet children's choirs or - worse - the adult ones, would be enough to put any sane adult over the edge.

So anyway. Gonna start checking out rehabilitation centres before this tick on my eye worsens to a point where I can't read the computer screen and the twitch from my elbow to my fingers prevents me from calling to make all arrangements."


  1. snow fact, we had a very spring-like day today in North London.
    No don't shout at me, I survived (only just) TEN very long and very cold winters in Chicago, so I know exactly what you're going through, except I didn't have a pair of Uggs to keep me steady.
    The crocus are starting to pop through and there are buds on the magnolia trees. Shall I stop typing now before you disown me???

  2. Sounds horrific. My nightmare in that scenario - where do I go to the toilet? Did you need to go??
    Blogging is the best therapy there is!
    Thanks for coming over to mine

  3. CTTF - thanks reading! Only one boy had to go for a wee and luckily we were stationary for much of the journey and it was one of those times that I really thanked the heavens that I had boys! And my bladder was obviously recognised the state of emergency and shut down for business. Tho I did have an extra big glass of wine when I got home and spent the evening on the loo. Oh and by the way...I think it has to be Gary Barlow for me. x

  4. Surely the boys peed in the car into a cup, otherwise wouldn't it have frozen on its way out? ouch! MH

  5. You know what I hate even more than the bloody snow? The salt. Everywhere. Yes, it keeps you from breaking your neck walking down the street but my car is white and it should be navy blue; the floorboards in my hall have white rings all over (and god knows what it's doing to the wood), and if you get some on your hand then scratch your eye, you're dead!

  6. MH - I happened to have these special wee pouches in the car (sometimes I marvel at my ability to prepared for every eventuality - and this was one of them)

    Expat - Totally agree. My floor length quilt (roughly disguised as a coat) is totally ruined and as for wearing anything approaching decent footwear, forget it.