With a Whoosh and a Schuss!

Even though I have spent 39 years of my life in the Midwest of the United States of America, most of those years in Wisconsin, I have never gone skiing.

Until now.

This weekend I am making the trek up to my home state with a group of my friends to purposely hurtle myself down a mountainside and hope to heaven that I don’t end up crushed in a pile at the bottom.

Now of course, I’m not going to be stupid about it.  I’m going to take lessons and start on the proverbial “Bunny Hill,” or whatever they call it at Alpine Valley Ski Resort.  And I can pretty well guess that the “mountain” at Alpine Valley will look nothing like the photo at right, with jagged cliffs and deep gorges.

Still, I’m a tad nervous.

And I won’t be alone, either.  There are a bunch of us in the group who have never skied before, so at least I won’t be the only one learning how not to break my nose.

But if I come back in a complete body cast, you’ll know why.

Heaven help me.

Winter Blahs

Sunset shadows

This happens every winter.

We get to the last week of January or the first week in February, and the blahs hit.  The weather is stuck in freezer mode, the skies are perpetually gray, and the days get monotonous.  So it is for me right now.

I know I need to get out of here for a while.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a vacation of any kind, and I really could benefit from the recharge.  I have a few ideas in mind– just weekend trips, nothing that would last a full week — but I’m definitely exploring the options.

There are a few fun things ahead, however.  Next weekend my friends and I are traveling to Whitewater, WI to go skiing.  I’ve never gone skiing before (which may shock some of you), but the idea of just getting away from the city for a while sounds really exciting.  We’ll be staying at our friend Jeff’s family cottage which is not far from Alpine Valley, where the resort is.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to even attempt skiing or just sit in the lodge and drink cocoa or hot toddies and wave.  Either way, I’m really looking forward to the trip.

This weekend is my nieces’ 2nd birthday, so of course a party is planned.  I’m looking forward to seeing them, as I always do.  I can hardly believe they’re already 2 years old.   Time sure flies quickly around here.

In the meantime, I will keep wrapping myself like a mummy and braving the elements.  Each day that passes means that spring is coming closer.  I can’t wait for that first 50 degree day, when runners hit the paths and the city comes alive.  From there, everything will get better.  That’s the glory of seasons, right?

Frozen, but still here!

Just wanted to pop in and say, yes, I’m still here. And I’m sorry I haven’t written much lately. I just haven’t really had that much to say.

After all, how many posts about the weather can one bear?

To sum up…

It’s fucking freezing out there.

This winter has been one of the worst I can recall in years. Aside from the practically nonstop snow, this cold is ridiculous. Right now, the temperature is -16 outside. My car is buried, not only in snow but now, ice.  I’ve been taking the train every day to work (which really hasn’t been that awful, except for the past few days when it’s been so brutally cold).  I’m sorry, but this is just not right. Penguins are meant for temps like this, not people.

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune ran an article on the front page of their website titled, “Why do we live here?” It was funny that they did that, because I’d been asking myself that same question all week. In fact, I’ve asked myself that question all winter.

So what is my answer?  Well, there are a few good reasons.

First, I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life. Born and raised in Kenosha, WI and now in Chicago. I’ve never lived anywhere else.

Second, my family is near here. I’m an hour or so away from home, and if I need to be there, I’m a quick car ride away.

Third, I don’t live here for the winters. I live here for the other seasons. Winter lasts all of three, maybe four months, tops. It’s miserable, but it turns into spring. And spring around here is really quite nice. And then of course, spring leads to summer; which can be painful if it’s too humid, but for the most part is still worth the wait through three or four months of cold, hard winter. And then, Autumn is beautiful with the colors and the crispness of the air.

I thought about what it would be like to live in warmer climes, and heard all kinds of suggestions from people who live in those climes. Florida, right now, is wonderful; but come summer, it’s so humid that I wouldn’t be able to breathe. And I’m enough of a basket case when we get an occasional thunderstorm, so hurricanes would not sit right with me at all.

Arizona, right now, is amazing. But come summer, I’m sorry, 120 degree heat is 120 degree heat; and I don’t care how friggin’ dry it is.

California is a great place to visit, but I’ve known far too many friends who tried to “make it” there, only to end up back home to the midwest after a while. Some claimed the people were not to their liking; others couldn’t deal with the inflated cost of living (especially in desireable places like San Francicsco).  Still others hated the earthquakes (that’d by my downfall). Whatever the reason, they always seem to end up back home again.

And then there was another factor that I didn’t consider, that more than one person reminded me of:  Bugs.  And I don’t mean the occasional spider or centipede… I’m talking mongoloid monster bugs, like flying cockroaches, hairy spiders and (*shudder*) scorpions. Seriously, folks… the fact that those monsters can’t survive up here because it gets as cold as it gets up here is enough reason for me to want to stay.

But really, the main reason why I live here is due to family. And not just my blood relatives, but the friends that I have here as well. Sure, the idea of trying out a new location is exciting. There’s something to be said for getting a “Fresh start” somewhere new.

But I know me. And I know that after a while the excitement would die off, and I’d be incredibly homesick. Despite all of the bitching and moaning I, and people like me do about the weather here, I do love it here. And in the end, I would not trade this place for anywhere else in the world.

So I guess I’m going to stay.

Well, I have to go start mummifying myself to catch a train.

Happy Friday! 🙂

Winter hates me.

It’s far too easy to say that I hate winter. At this point, after the winter we’ve had around here, EVERYONE hates winter.

We’ve had more snow this winter than any in recent memory. It’s been bitterly cold, then warm, then cold, then warm and humid, and then cold again– over and over and over.

I’ve been sick three times with any given number of respiratory ailments, and no sooner than one leaves, another takes its place.

But through all of this insanity, I’m managed not to slip and fall on the icy sidewalks… Until today.

So instead of believing that I hate winter (which I do), I think it’s time to realize that something even bigger is afoot.  Winter hates ME.

I woke up a little late today so I begrudgingly decided to take my car in to work. I say begrudgingly because it meant I had to scrape yesterday’s ice and snow off the windows, and that’s never a fun job when you’re in a hurry. Also, since it had been there a couple days, it was bound to be glued to the windows and therefore a bitch to remove.  I was right.

I also decided to drive because the conditions were really icy and I didn’t feel it would be in my best interest to walk on everyone’s ice-packed sidewalks. See, in my neighborhood there are the responsible residents and the lazy residents. The responsible residents shovel, salt, and then shovel again after the salt breaks up the snow and ice a bit more. Their sidewalks clear up in a day or so and turn into safe walking surfaces for everyone. The lazy residents let everyone trample the snow until it’s smooshed into a thick glacier-like substance, and hope that maybe the temperature will rise so it will turn to slush and get brushed away by the constant traffic of people’s feet. This works fine in theory, except if the temperature decides to dive even lower the next day, which turns that solid glacier into solid ice. Not fun at all, folks.

So I chose to drive to avoid this. And it went great… until I got to the parking garage. I had to park on the roof, which never pleases me, but it’s better than nothing. I got out of the car and dodged the ice around me until I reached the doors to the elevator. I stepped up on the curb and then saw what eventually brought me down. A smooth, shiny sheet of ice.  I couldn’t avoid it.  There was no way around it.  So I stepped.

CRASH!

I hit the ground, directly on my right knee.

Now I should mention that I have pretty bad knees. Always have. My knees have always popped when I bend them, and once in a while I even tear a little cartilage if I’m not careful when getting jostled around on the El or while… um… horsing around. The tears last for weeks and are incredibly painful, and unfortunately the only thing I can do is wear a brace and wait for it to heal.

That’s how it feels right now.

I don’t know if I twisted it or just bashed it hard against the concrete. If it hurts worse tomorrow (which I suspect it will) I may have to visit the E.R. Great way to start off the new year!!!

So this winter has been very unkind to me. I’ve been its bitch, and I’ve submitted over and over again. It’s taking its toll on me something fierce…

But even still, it hasn’t beat me yet!

January sucks

I hate the month of January.  Plain and simple.

It’s a cold, gray, bleak month with nothing good going for it but a three-day-weekend on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  The rest of the time is spent hoping that February is a little less blah; a little less dreary.

Of course it doesn’t help that about 90% of my friends are all going on a cruise to the Carribean this weekend.  You may remember that as the same cruise that I almost went on last year but backed out when common sense got the best of me and I realized there was no way in HELL I could afford it.  Probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done — though I really could use the sunshine, warm air, sunshine, hot boys in speedos, sunshine and… well you get the picture.

The problem with hearing all about this cruise is it only makes those of us left behind even more depressed that we have to be stuck in this shit-hole weather.  They practically thumb their noses at us on the way to the airport.  Gee thanks.  Hope your ship doesn’t run into a tidal wave and flip upside down.  Which, as you know, unless you’re Shelley Winters, you ain’t gonna survive!  And trust me, most my friends are not Shelley Winters-sized individuals. 

Adding insult to injury, this weekend the temperature is expected to plummet to single-digits or lower.  Oh GOODY!  Let’s make it gray and blah AND frigid!

You may note a slight tone of sarcasm to my words today.  Well, yeah, I’m just a little down in the dumps.  There are other reasons for this that I don’t want to write about right now, so I’ll just blame everything on the weather and maybe that will help.

I need a vacation!