Monday, January 6, 2014

Stone Cold Never (Shakes Fist at Sky)

This morning, as I groggily woke up for the second time—I was first awakened in a start around 6:00 a.m. to a robocall from our schools, reminding us that there is no school today—I thought of Scarlett O'Hara. Specifically, I thought of her solemn vow to herself, featured in the clip below, and realized that if I replaced "hungry" with "freezing," she would have said it all.

You may have heard that the region where I live is currently experiencing what the meteorologists are calling a "polar vortex." Being trapped in a vortex never sounds good, right? That's straight out of Star Trek 101: don't get trapped in a vortex. Even a good vortex probably has a twist, like a candy vortex would make you sick, or a Utopian vortex would somehow leave you devoid of free will.  No good can come from a vortex.

With a current outside air temperature at a record-setting low of -13 degrees (and falling!), and a wind chill factor making it feel more like -30 to -40 degrees, this polar vortex makes my personal naughty list, and will not be receiving gifts from me next Christmas. 

The upside: school was cancelled, we are all here warm and safe (thank you, jobs that we can do from a home office), the power is still on (we lost our power in the blizzard a couple of years ago, and wow, that was some dark, cold, scary stuff), and I ground enough coffee for two days, in case the power does go out, and I have to go low-tech for caffeine.  Phones are charged, fridge is stocked, and according to my favorite mechanic, I could either try (or not try) to start our car occasionally today to keep the battery running, as they have no idea which tactic will make for a better chance that the battery won't be dead in time for school pick-up tomorrow. "It's never this cold here, try whatever strategy you'd like."

It never WAS this cold here. Hello, record books.

Yesterday, when school was still scheduled to be open today, but an optional excused absence for those who wanted to keep their kids indoors, the parents in EJ's class had a discussion about who was sending their kids in, and who wasn't. I was surprised at how many folks were planning to bundle their children up and bring them to school. I know that work constraints make this necessary for a lot of people, but beyond that, so many folks seemed to think it wouldn't be a big deal at all, while my brain kept screaming to me, "DON'T GO OUTSIDE!" Chicagoans are tough weather people, and I...well, I am doing what I need to do, but I now lack the "conquering the cold is cool" attitude that makes this a lot more fun.
I've been sick of this weather for awhile, and I've talked about it so much, it has become white noise, I'm sure. We are on the precipice of making a move, hopefully selling this condo, and extreme experiences like this one remind me we are on the right track. No, we aren't going to have polar vortexes every winter, but I realize: I don't ever want to be in a polar vortex, or any of its frigid cousins, again, even if it only happens once every ten years. My body no longer wants 20 degrees to feel relatively balmy—I want to live somewhere where 30 degrees constitutes a deep freeze, and we must bundle up in down jackets because we aren't hearty enough to take the cold anymore.

Yes, we could stay here, if we had the right opportunities, but if we stay here, we really do need a garage, a home on the ground floor or in an elevator-accessible building, and a generator. We also need to get me on a warm destination vacation around this time every year. I need an extreme cold-mitigation strategy.

Friends in Washington, DC, and California, you are reading this, right? You'll never be cheeky sending job openings my way: you'll be an integral part of my extreme cold-mitigation strategy. 

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