Here's something I just learned via WGN's 9 p.m. new cast. Temperatures in Chicago are going to drop below zero tonight and may possibly remain there through Friday morning "producing what could be a 39 consecutive-hour stretch of subzero temperatures over many parts of the area." And the crazy thing about these crazy cold temperatures is that they do not even factor in the wind chill.
For those of you reading from warmer locales such as Phoenix, California or Australia, let me just say a quick suck it. I kid. Can I come visit and stay through April?
Yeah, people, it's freaking cold here, but I haven't personally felt the painful, Chicago cold yet. I can remember days in past winters where I contemplated taking a cab one block just to escape the elements. I remember contemplating how I could fashion an electric blanket into a coat. I remember coming home and taking hot showers that were painful because my skin was so cold. I am not saying this frigid cold will not strike me at some point, but I think here in my fifth Chicago winter, I've learned a few tricks.
The first trick is dressing not to impress. I bought heavy duty snow boots recently. They go up to my knees, are rubber and have a warm lining. They also are arguably the best purchase I've made in months. I tuck my pants into these boots every day and stomp through the snow and the sludge to my train station. To walk to the train, I will wear my green ski coat with my burgundy bag with my black boots, hat and gloves with my white scarf with my brown pants spilling out from my boots. Not a thing on me matches. Last year during one cold spell I wore yoga pants under a dress just to cover my legs a little more. It will probably happen again this year. Let's face it, if it gets bad enough I may walk to the train wearing everything I own. I am not trendy in the least bit, but you know what? I'm warm. And when my train runs even two minutes behind schedule that little bit of extra warmth makes a world of difference.
The second thing I've learned: Don't leave home to catch the train more than three minutes before it's due to arrive. The trains usually run late if anything in the snow, and on cold days I'd rather have to run to catch it than wait an extra 30 seconds because I was too prompt.
The last and possibly most important thing I may have learned is to psych myself out. Every morning when I am about to step outside I tell myself that it's cold. Frigid. Miserable. It couldn't possibly be colder. It's so cold I may see a frozen polar bear on my way to the train station. It sounds crazy but it works because the second I step outside I say, 'Oh wait, it's not that bad." It's genius. And a little mental.
What can I say? It's winter in Chicago. There's only so much we can control. Us Chicagoans still have to go to work. We still have to walk to the train. We still have to catch buses and wait for the El. We still have to dig out our cars from snowy side streets and hope that they won't get encased in a wall of frozen snow by a plow truck. But gosh darn the summers here are amazing. They have to be in order to put up with 39 hours of subzero temperatures.