Last week, I was hard pressed to find a good reason why we live here.
Biting wind, slippery sidewalks and snow blowing in the face…signs do not point to “yes.” They point to “I need a warmer coat.”
However, protesting the notion of standing in 7 degree weather to take two buses home, I stepped into a cab one evening and remembered how Chicago can be livable in the winter—there are vehicles out there, waiting to drive us around. We don’t have to wait on the bus. We don’t have to clean snow off our cars. We can take a cab. It’s easy.
Endure the scent, for better or worse.
Oh, and pay the man (or lady).
I don’t take cabs often. It’s a rare treat. I have a foxy Focus, even though I drive her infrequently. For some reason, taking a cab feels like cheating. I’ll usually only do so if:
1. I’m feeling fancy (not too often).
2. I’m running really late (it happens).
3. I’m working really late (I can expense).
4. I’ve had a little too much to drink (i like wine).
Long story short, cabs can be smelly and/or nauseating. However, they can be a lifesaver in a pinch and a treat from time to time. And certainly, a great place to have a dance party to “Groove Is In the Heart.” That may or may not have happened.
It’s been December for eight days, and it’s snowed three days of those days. Right in a row.
The snow hasn’t been substantial yet, but it’s been enough to make the commute annoying and make me create a mental checklist of all indoor activity options—like live music. Reason We Live in Chicago (in crappy weather) #2.
Oh, yes. Bands play here.
Sometimes, I forget how cheap and accessible a good show is in Chicago. The notion quickly came back to me last Tuesday when we went to see The xx and Friendly Fires at Bottom Lounge.
Originally, the allure of attending the show was The xx. They’re a lovely little British band I’ve been listening to for the past few months, thanks to emusic and the prompting of my good pal, Lisa. They sounded fantastic live, true to form, especially given that they recently went from four band members to three. Favorite live songs were “Crystallized” and “Islands.” Yessss.
The only image I got of the whole band, thanks to the enormous speaker in front of me.
Signature double white xx, encapsulated in black.
The surprise of the night was how much I liked Friendly Fires. I have their album, and I do like it, especially as a workout soundtrack. I still had low expectations going into the show, assuming they’d play like other generic British pop bands. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing sound quality and immense energy that the band brought to the stage. The lead singer danced his ass off, and the crowd followed suit.
I just noticed how sweaty the guy in the middle is.
That’s the best: going from liking to digging a band as a result of seeing a live show. Especially when the show only cost you $15 plus the cost of cheap beer. The best.
The first snow of the season fell this morning. It’s a whopping 26 degrees outside right now. Sleeping bags coats are out, hats and gloves abound, and puddles have morphed into ice.
It’s official: it feels like winter. Pretty soon, we’ll be asking ourselves “why do we live here?” as we trudge though a foot of snow.
So, I’m starting a new project “Reasons We Live in Chicago,” to remind myself (and others) in the snowy, subzero months ahead why Chicago is a great place to live. I know it will be hard to remember.
Reasons We Live in Chicago #1: The views
When I worked in the Loop, I took the skyline’s eye candy for granted. Most daily commutes, my nose would stay in a book until I arrived at my bus stop. Then, I was surrounded by never-ending skyscrapers I could barely see.
Now, I travel daily to River North, stopping just short of the skyscrapers. It’s because of the short amount of distance I can truly appreciate the view. I was caught quite off guard the other night when I had to walk a few blocks east to Michigan Ave. I’m a daring woman to shop there this time of year.
One more for the road. This was from last summer when Leese and Jo visited, and I made them go on the Architectural Boat Tour with me.
Hey, I’ll take it. I probably don’t need to tell you that winter in Chicago this year has been more miserable and unpredictable than usual, making us asking ourselves “Why do we live here?” several times a day. Ask my friend, Megan Boley, pictured at right. She’s not impressed.
So, six weeks certainly beats the 12 weeks of arctic air and snow that I had predicted. And it saves me from the usual colloquialism: “Oh, we only have to do this for three more months.” Nope, only six weeks, according to my new furry BFF. Even though I am pretending that there are only six more weeks to go, the truth is, we’ve got a long way until spring. And many people, myself included, are doing the best they can to beat the winter doldrums. Here are some ways that people are coping, or how I like to think of it, putting a Band-aid over winter:
Exposing yourself to the element
This technique practically screams denial. Super Bowl Sunday, it was a balmy 35 degrees in Chicago. If you were predicting the weather on the basis of attire, you might have guessed that it was the first day of spring. Rebels were walking around without coats. One friend even reported seeing someone walking around in shorts and a hoodie. Seriously? Although I have not been brave enough to try this myself, I witnessed a friend sporting open-toed shoes in order to create the illusion that it was lukewarm outside. The attempt failed, but she looked damn cute.
Mixing up the routine
Everyone I know is trying this one. It ranges from a making a subtle change in appearance to going out one night during the week. Whatever it is, you can certainly separate from your Netflix and get out of your apartment to do something different for once.
Wear the brightest color of clothing that you own I brought a red coat out of the archives and wore it for one week solid to make myself feel better about January. And I did I feel a little more enthusiastic about going outside, but I will admit to you that this sentiment was short lived. And I probably looked like Madeline, the French cartoon girl.
Get the hell out of town
If at all possible this time of year, get out of Chicago and go some place warmer. Even if it’s only five degrees warmer, you’ll thank yourself later. I recently went to San Francisco, and I had a smile on my face for two weeks after my return. Until I realized there was snow on the ground again. (insert sigh)
Trick everyone (including yourself) into thinking you’re out of town Let’s face it: the economy sucks right now. It’s no time to take an extended vacation. But, you can trick everyone on Facebook, and even yourself, into thinking you’re doing so. Call it a “stay-cation,” or whatever you will: it’s the dream that status messages are made of. A friend of mine recently brought this up, and I thought it was genius. Perhaps I will be in Paris or Costa Rica tonight. Check my Facebook page to find out.
If you have a fantastic way to cope with the winter doldrums, please share. I’ll be hiding indoors until then.