Living in the South

27 01 2015

Best things about living in the south:

fried okra

the weather

the wonderful people I’ve met

(they don’t necessarily come after okra and weather, but I just had more okra today, and it’s really on my mind)

fried lots of things, actually

sweet tea

the weather: it’s worth mentioning again, as it is the middle of January and I am only wearing one pair of pants

ubiquitous bicsuits


mountain hikes

and seriously, y’all:  the weather

The Rain Here

11 09 2014

It rained here the other day with such big, round drops, that a person could walk five paces in between getting wet.

"Ecstasy" by Maxfield Parrish

“Ecstasy” by Maxfield Parrish

But that was just one rain. The big-drop rain doesn’t seem to be the dependable personality of the rain here. The one constant I’ve seen so far is its ability to both approach and depart so quickly, surrounded on either side by beautiful blue skies with picture perfect clouds. The skies here often seem that they are exquisite artist renderings of what people think beautiful skies should look like—back drops meticulously painted on scrims, which the set-designer just rolled out from the back of the theater.

The downpours can be heavy at times, with magnificent thunder and lightning shows. Afterward, steam dramatically rises up from the hot pavement. Surrounded by all these trees, and chirping bugs and birds, it is less gritty than the steam rising up from the manhole covers in the big city. And it’s prettier too.

The other day, I drove for about 20 minutes on curvy back roads through a forest to buy almond milk, taquitos, and popcorn. (All of Georgia is in a forest, whether you’re in the city or the country—or, like us, somewhere in between). And in those 20 minutes, I witnessed gentle grey clouds, a spectacular maybe-I-should-pull-this-car-over rainstorm, steam and mist and fog (condensation that couldn’t decide whether it was warm or cool), then cleared-up skies, followed by the most amazing sunset I’d seen in a long time.

This cartoon gets it.

This cartoon gets it.

I am fond of rain. I can’t remember ever not liking a rainy day. I’ve always preferred them to the sunny ones. Just as a sun-lover feels downtrodden and irritable after so many days of rain in a row, I am not a truly happy camper until a stretch of sunshine-filled days is finally interrupted with a gentle, grey day, giving me a much-needed respite. The sun is just too aggressive for me. Perhaps that sentiment is rooted in my much too pale and sensitive skin. I can accrue a sunburn in less than eight minutes of being out-of-doors on bright, sunny day and my Nordic eyes are sensitive to that harsh light. There’s a certain amount of pushiness that a sunny day has. “Get out there and do something!” A grey day, on the other hand, is much more laid back about your personal choices. “Did you want to read a book today? Oh, okay. That’s cool. Just to let you know, if you wanted to take a wee nap, that’s fine too.   Really, anything you decide to do today is splendid. No judgment here.”

Sunny days are the over-achieving girl who lives next door, always giving you the side-eye, because you don’t mow your lawn every week. Grey days are your best friend, the one who always listens and supports your every decision.

I am not as deterred by the amount of sun here as I thought I’d be, mostly because the bounty of trees provides this super white gal with ample amounts of shade. And also, those clouds—those picture perfect, Maxfield Parrish clouds that decorate the bright, blue sky are not so bad. Not so bad at all.

If I had a little rain cloud following me everywhere, I would save so much money on sunscreen!

If I had a little rain cloud following me everywhere, I would save so much money on sunscreen!

I’ve only been living in this region for a month, and it’s certainly not going to surpass Seattle in its ability to please me rain-wise. But already, Georgia has given those glorious mid-west thunderstorms that I loved in Chicago a run for their money. And maybe, just maybe, since the winters are so mild here, the months to come will have lots more grey days and rain. I sure am lucky my husband didn’t get a job that moved us to Arizona or New Mexico.

Winter: Out Of Order, Please Have a Different Season Instead

2 02 2012

I would like to begin by stating that I enjoy nice weather.  I’m a huge fan.  And I certainly don’t want to come off as a complainer about the recent situation.  After all, a person who’s recovering from the flu has no business being outside when it’s a typical January or February day in Chicago, right?  So the fact that I’ve been able to–not just painlessly–but pleasantly walk a mile or two every day on account of temperatures being in the 40’s and even 50’s is something I should be praising the deities for, yes?


And yet, something’s off.  It just doesn’t feel quite right.  I should be rejoicing.  Isn’t the “Dreaded Chicago Winter” the only thing that makes this city not perfect?  Haven’t I declared time and time again that, “I don’t know how long I could live here–I just don’t know how many Chicago Winters I can survive” and so on?  Didn’t I write this?  And this?  I’ve never EVER talked highly of the winters here in Chicago.  Ever.  In fact, I’ve been downright insulting.  But how can something that beats down on my soul day after day deserve respect?  How can something that freezes the moisture on my eyeballs in one short trip from train station to apartment building door expect politeness?  Why would I pay courtesy to the annual event that transforms my home into something uninhabitable?

Could it be that I have begun to love this city, warts and all?  Am I donning that badge that every true Chicagoan wears?  The badge that reads, “I’m hardcore, ’cause I wait for the bus in January.”  Getting through a winter here is something to keep track of.  We all have our metaphorical notches in our boots.  I’ve got five myself.  Wow.  Five.

I haven’t made the sixth notch yet.  Because honestly, winter hasn’t happened here yet.  Not truly.  It’s already February and we haven’t even dipped below freezing.  (I can’t believe I’ve taken issue with this!  It’s insane.  Somebody stop me!  I don’t know who I’ve become!)  I haven’t worn my serious winter coat yet (the one that weighs ten pounds, the one that is insulated so well I feel like a super hero–except I don’t look like a super hero in it–I look like a huge dork).  For the sake of all that is good in the world, I still haven’t needed to wear three pairs of pants or two pairs of gloves!  Clearly, something is very, very wrong.

Frankly, we’re all just way too comfortable.  We’re not supposed to be comfortable right now.  We’re supposed to be paying our dues, ant-ing it up in the winter months so that we can really grasshopper it when summer comes.

If this continues for much longer, Chicago could face a serious identity crisis.  Think about it.  This city is defined by good theatre, deep dish pizza, crooked politics, questionable hot dog (or veggie dog–Woot!) toppings, and shitty, shitty winters. If they take this away from us, what’s next?  Full funding for our libraries?

When will the madness end?  What will become of us?  Road work is happening in February, for goodness sake!  If construction is happening now, buds on the trees are soon to follow.  You can see the poor workers out there in their hard-hats, wandering aimlessly, filling potholes, confused by how their hibernation was cut so short.  And if they’re out this early, you know they’re going to be mating by March!

Again, I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the absolutely delightful walking-weather.  Because it has been so very splendid.  I am thankful for having the odd sensation of feeling uplifted and lighter in the middle of winter.  But the Chicagoan in me knows that it’s wrong.  Call me a martyr, but it’s February, dammit.  We shouldn’t be this comfortable.

Lighten up!

16 09 2011

It is fall.

Okay.  Well, it’s not officially fall.  We still have a few more days before the equinox.  But here in Chicago, we’ve already had at least three nights in a row where the temps dropped down into the forties.

And tonight, I wore my puffy vest.  

So, yeah.  I’m callin’ it.  It’s fall.

I love fall.  It is my favorite season.  Apple cider, bright scarves, comfy sweaters, colorful leaves, crisp air, hayrides….  Oh, man.  I just love all that harvest-y Samhain goodness.

But recently, all of my “Whoo-hoo!  It’s fall!” comments have been met with sneers and jeers and woe-is-us’s.  Hmph.   And the reason?  People are scared of the end of summer because they’re already thinking of the beginning of winter.

Ugh!  Slow down, y’all!  We’ve got a WHOLE season of orange and red and yellow before we get to the “w” word.

Cursing fall because you’re dreading winter is like cursing Sunday because you’re dreading Monday.  And that’s just depressing.  So, stop depressing me.  You know who you are.  We’ve got an entire delicious season of butternut squash soup at our doorstep.  Please don’t be a grumpy host.

I, for one, am putting out the welcome mat for my dear, annual friend.  And I hope you’ll do the same.

I don’t think I’m getting enough respect in this relationship.

28 05 2011

So if a Chicago winter is like being punched in the face, then a Chicago summer is like being pinched in the ass.  Just last night as I waited for the train, shivering in my winter hat and scarf, Chicago was definitely punching me in the face.  This Memorial Day, weather forecasters are predicting some definite ass-pinching weather–with highs in the mid 90’s.  So Chicago, does that mean you’re only going to spoon with me for two days?  Two days?  You didn’t even buy me dinner.  I hope you’ll be gentle with me this summer.  And give me flowers.  Lots and lots of flowers.


28 is the new 50

25 01 2011

Could it be?

Could it be that my body is growing accustomed to the winters in Chicago?

…perhaps my soul will follow…

Today, 28 degrees feels


light, happy, un-oppressive

What’s the word?


Yes, 28 feels warm.

Is this what love feels like?  Or have my priorities changed?  My standards gone?  Is this just the apologetic “I didn’t mean it, baby” in an otherwise abusive relationship?

Have I grown?  Adjusted?  Settled?



I’ll just enjoy it.


Chicago’s Weather

20 04 2009

When I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2007, excited midwesterners bopped all around me continuously exclaiming, “Chicago’s summers are wonderful!” and “Oh, the best place to be for summer is Chicago!!”

I had just moved here from Seattle where the summers are pleasantly moderate with no humidity.  Combine that with mountain air and the occasional salt-water breeze wafting from the Puget Sound, and…well, the Blue Scholars put it best when they said, “Ain’t nothing better than the summer in the northwest.”

So, on hot, balmy days when ecstatic Chicagoans would bound up to me and ask, “Isn’t Chicago in the summer wonderful?!?!” my first thought was always, “Um, no, actually.  It’s really, really hot.” But their enthusiasm was so pervasive, I’d just nod and smile and continue on with my day.

Then, I experienced my first Chicago winter.  I won’t go into the details here, as I don’t know if I have any under-age readers…but suffice it to say, it was horribly brutal.  A single Chicago winter can kill a person’s soul.

When the summer of ’08 finally arrived, I became one of those ecstatic midwesterners, bobbling about singing the praises of the superiority of Chicago summers.  How did this happen?!  How did I so quickly become this person?

Now that I’ve surrvived two winters here, I have now realized the perfect analogy to explain this phenomenon for folks who don’t live here or are new to the area.  Let’s say you’re walking down the street and an extremely overjoyed person prances up to you and says, “Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not punching you in the face right now?!”  Of course you would look at them funny or try to avoid eye contact and escape, or perhaps just nod and smile and continue on with your day…  Now, if that same person were to punch you in the face continuously for say, five (or more) months.  When they finally stop and ask, “Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not punching you in the face right now?!” you would say, “Yes, oh yes!  Not being punched in the face is marvelous!!”

Chicago, it’s April.  Please stop punching me in the face.