STFU Fridays: Winter

Let’s just cut to the chase right here and now: if you are going to get all defensive and up in arms because I’m about to take all the people whining and griping about winter, and shit, to task – just stop. Stop right now. Go back to your fucking pity party, where you sit on your computer looking for deals to tropical places that you will never take a vacation to during the winter; go back to your bitch posts on Facebook and Twitter about the cold and the shoveling and all that bullshit too. Just stop and go back to all that shit and do not read ANY FURTHER.

Because I don’t have time for your bullshit defensiveness right now. Really, I don’t.

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I haven’t done an STFU Friday post in a long time, mainly because on Fridays I’ve been inundated with all of your fucking gripings about cold this, and polar vortex that, and OMG my weekend is ruined I have to shovel snow horse shit. Breaking the fucking STFU silence here, though, because – quite frankly – I’m sick and goddamned tired of all of you guys and your panty-waste whining.

There. I said it. Someone had to.

Well, it’s February 21st motherfuckers, and March is just around the corner. In like a lion and out like a lamb, so let’s just all agree to shut the fuck up and move on about this whole winter thing.

Before I moved to California, I lived in Chicago. I will never forget my last winter there. It was a doozy. Some nights the wind chill got all the way down to negative 30, and we had about 38 inches of snow in a period of roughly 48 hours. Now I’m not that old, and a lot of people I hear griping about the weather in the Midwest and East Coast right now have lived in cold areas like that for much longer than I have been away from it; which means that winter must be like child birth in the sense that everyone fucking forgets after a few years what a hard one really is like.

I am so tired of hearing about the polar vortex. Really. Really and fucking truly. First, and foremost – it’s over with! Fucking move on! Stop trying to analyze it, or deny the fact that the whether patterns are getting more extreme, and that the jet stream has changed, because of global warming, a.k.a. climate change. We’re not talking about why it happened – I have no interest in arguing with you ignorant fucking assholes about that. Let’s just all agree that shit is changing, and this is obvious proof of it. Now just shut up about it, because really it has been that cold before and it will be that cold again.

Shut the fuck up complaining about the way people drive in the winter weather, too. Or the way you have to shovel the driveway a lot. Every time I hear people bitching about shoveling I think to myself Jesus fucking a Christ, snow plows have been around and affordable for DECADES. Shut the fuck up about how you have icicles hanging from your roof, and about the fact that your heating bill has been so high the past few months. Probably 90% of the people I hear bitching and griping about all of these weather-related things work in the service industry: doctors, therapists, firefighters, policeman, nurses. In other words, there are plenty of jobs in places that are far warmer all year long where you could all relocate to and never have to deal with the snow driving-slash-driveway shoveling-slash-heating bill bullshit ever again. Until you make a concerted effort to do this, shut the shit up about all the rest already.

Can it with all your complaining about your kids being home from school. If you didn’t want to run the risk of your kids having snow days from school, you shouldn’t have had kids when you continue to live in a fucking place where you know this could be a possibility. Fuckin’ for real, people – someone had to fucking say it, and I know a lot of you that don’t bitch about your kids having to stay home on snow days were thinking it. That’s like saying you are upset because your child has a fever and can’t go to daycare. That’s pretty much been the lay of the land for – oh, I don’t know – since the advent of people having children in daycare. Therefore, you knew what you were getting into. Let your kids jump on the fucking bed after they play in the snow and have their hot cocoa; work from home, and shut the fuck up.

I saw an article the other day about how cities have a “new challenge” with all this cold and snow and ice and shit, in that they have to close down sections of sidewalk next to big buildings so that people don’t get murdered by falling icicle daggers. I’m sorry, new challenge? Huh? This has been going on FOR DECADES. Since the advent of skyscrapers. My mind is just utterly fucking boggled by this, because it is case-in-point proof that you people have never experienced winter before in your entire fucking lives.

But that isn’t really true, is it? The truth is that you guys had a couple easy ones, and – like I said – it was like all of your awful, 30+ hours of labor and delivery, when you tried to squeeze little Johnny out your v-hole. You forgot, quickly, how truly horrible it can be.

So let’s all just agree that you people amidst a shitty winter need to say “hey, look…it’s been a shitty winter, but just around the corner we’ll have spring and then a shitty summer to bitch and gripe about.” Because that’s what’s next, right guys? An extra hot, or extremely humid, summer that you all won’t shut your lily-livered mouths about?

Right. I thought so.

Sorry, guys. I know, this must be easy and all for me to say, being that I’m in California and haven’t worn anything but flip-flops in my 14 years here. But I’ve been back to the cold and the freezing in that time, and I just didn’t bitch about it. I actually enjoyed it. Truthfully, you guys should all consider yourselves lucky, for it isn’t until you live in the same, drab weather day after boring fucking day that you realize a harsh winter isn’t that bad in the end. It’s a change of pace. A beauty of nature. Something many people dream of and have never had the fortune to experience.

So shut the fuck up about winter, guys. Seriously. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

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I Like The Cold

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People always look at me like I’m a complete moron when I tell them that I like the cold. As in cold outside, you know: snow, sleet, wind chill.

I get jealous when I see that there are blizzards going on somewhere in the world.

I live in California. Particularly, Southern California. We have one dial on the weather-o-meter and that’s about it: 70s and sunny. Sometimes we get fog. Occasionally it rains for a few days. Once in a while the winds blow and it hits 90; or the ocean blows in some high 60s.

High 60s. Anything below that and the city in which we live shuts down.

By contrast, I grew up in Chicago. Those of you that have been hanging around the blog for a while know how much I love the city and its suburbs. In the winter, and sometimes in the fall and spring, it is exceedingly cold in Chicago. Like cold-cold.

And I love it.

I guess maybe you don’t realize what it’s like to live in a place that has virtually no weather variation at all until you have. I’ve lived in Southern California now for almost 14 years and I can say without a doubt that it is beyond boring, mainly because of the weather. Yeah, it’s nice to not have to worry about things like closed-toed shoes or scarves and hats. Sure you have the ocean with the EPA’s estimation that thousands of people take a dump in that water every day while out surfing or swimming (related note: I do not ever go in the Pacific Ocean). Okay, you have the beaches you can go to any time of the year ….unless, of course, they’re closed because of all the hypodermic needles sticking out of the sand.

But there is no changing of the leaves really, especially not as dramatically as in the Midwest. You never have the excitement of jumping in a pile of freshly raked leaves; or by contrast the thrill of knowing that spring is just around the corner.

There will never be a first snow of the year for Southern Californians.

No, there will be first snow in the mountains that people will get in their cars and drive to, only after the snowing has already happened. And only for a little while before getting back in their cars and driving home to the 70s and sunny before nightfall.

You cannot get much more monotonous than that.

What I’m saying is that there are no changes of the seasons, which means there is none of the living that comes along with it. I equate living with having these experiences that are unique and exciting and different. Not monotony. Shoveling. Snow balls. Raking leaves. Seeing fresh flowers bloom. Feeling snow in your hair. Ice skating. Sledding in your back yard. Bundling up in a hat, scarf, and gloves for a football game. Hot chocolate when it isn’t actually hot out.

In 70s and sunny every day, there is not much room for exciting and different experiences when it comes to the weather. I find this ironic because in California we pride ourselves on organic-living, which should extend well beyond just the foods we eat into the way we live. And yet there is nothing organic at all about making fake snow at Disneyland or having to drive four hours in traffic to see orange, brown, and red leaves.

I don’t know, maybe it’s all in my head. I must be biased because I love Chicago and dislike California. I’m sure there is an entire conglomerate of blog followers, family, friends, and people that just like to hate me waiting to tell me how I am making no sense. I have rocks in my brains for liking cold weather, or I’ve just forgotten what a foot of snow feels like.

The bottom line, though, is that I’m home again, in suburban Chicago for the holiday. And I felt more alive as I stood in the snow yesterday afternoon than at any point in the last 14 years that I’ve lived in Southern California. I was cold. My fingers felt numb. But I could feel it, and I knew I was there because of it. There was nothing monotonous about it at all, and that is living.

From California

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I take it pretty offensively when people refer to me as “from California.” First and foremost, I don’t really like California. It’s nothing personal against anyone that does – I just don’t gel with it. Secondly, though, I’m just not from there. I’m from Chicago. Get over it. Just because I happen to live in California right now doesn’t mean anything.

I would get just as annoyed anywhere said besides where I’m actually from. It’s linguistically wrong.

But then there is the added insult that comes when someone says that you are from California, because they don’t just say that. That you are from California. In the last few days, I’ve witnessed quite a few embellishments on the statement.

“You talk like you’re from California…”

You don’t say. What exactly does that mean? For someone to talk like they’re from California?

Is it the accent? I don’t really have an accent, in fact if I do it’s still a Midwestern one. My ‘a’s are always hard, and on occasion I get that Northern ‘you know’ that you find in Minnesota.

People say all the time in Chicago that I talk like I’m from California, and I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that. I didn’t think that I said words such as ‘like’ or ‘oh my God’ or ‘rad waves dude,’ but perhaps I’ve become so much from California that I don’t even notice it anymore.

“You’re from California… you must want brown rice, tofu, and vegetables…”

It is true that in California we often eat very light food. Brown rice. Tofu. Salads. California style food is supposed to be fusion, but a lot of the time it’s just shit. Shit with shit piled on top. Add some asiago cheese to make it sound slightly more appealing, and that about sums it up.

We were at Panda Express today and I was talking with the guy behind us in line about how we were visiting from where we live – in California. When we got to our turn in line, the guy slopping the faux-Chinese food onto the plates said “oh you’re from California… you must want brown rice and vegetables.”

Kiss my hairy ballsack, you minimum wage employee. What a horrific stereotype.

“Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather…”

People’s response when I say that I want to move back to Chicago from California is always one of horror. How could you not love laying on the beaches in the sunny, 70 degree weather every day? Basking in the glow of the warmth that showers down on the Golden State literally every day of the blissfully perfect year?

How dare you insult us as we sit in the snow, or the muggy heat? How dare you insult us with such a suggestion that the perfect climate in California is not something you would give up everything for?

Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather… you must have forgotten what it’s like.

Actually, no. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like because it still gets cold and it still gets super hot, and we still have really muggy days and the times that it is legitimately 70, sunny, and perfect are so few and far between that we don’t really know how that California stereotype came about.

What’s worse about California weather too isn’t just that it isn’t what everyone thinks it is, but we’re not equipped for it. When it rains, we have massive flooding. And mudslides. When it’s hot we have disastrous fires. When it’s hot we have no air conditioning. When it’s humid, our houses get demolished by mold.

And even when it’s nice in California, the air is so filled with the pollutants and pollens that you can barely breath without choking and getting a migraine.

From California…

Being on vacation – this vacation in particular – is hard enough without having to deal with that kind of stereotypical bullshit. It just goes to show that everyone is judgmental, or has their opinions on what it means to be this or that.

If people are proud to be from California, kudos to them. For me, it’s just not who I am. Daily I struggle with the influence that the California culture has had over me. I feel guilty for eating anything beyond air. I can’t go out without making sure my hair, my makeup, my accessories, and my clothes are just right. When you’re from California, this is the kind of crap you do; you do more – I do more – but that is just the tip of the iceberg that is my daily struggle.

Really it’s all of our daily struggles, though, when we find ourselves in a place that is not conducive to who we are. It doesn’t matter if you are from the Midwest, from the East Coast, from another country, or from California. The ongoing crisis identity is not reserved for the alleys of high school hallways, nor people that go somewhere new to reinvent themselves. Wherever you go, people will notice that you are not from there. Or maybe they just assume when they hear it that you are different.

So I’m On Vacation…

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….which means I haven’t had much to say lately. Not because I’ve been on vacation, I just got here yesterday. No, I have had little to say on the ol’ bloggie lately simply because I was getting ready for the trip. Traveling is difficult even on your own.

So I’m on vacation. Those of you that have been around for a while know that I’m from Chicago. I live in California now, though (unfortunately), so typically vacations involve the Windy City. Last year we came out for a couple weeks, this year we’re spending a whole month here.

Let’s hope next time it’s permanent.

So far I have learned a few things.

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#1 A Lot of People Are Obnoxious

It doesn’t say “surviving on cynicism and misanthropy” in the banner of this website for nothing: I think a lot of people are obnoxious. I’m probably more obnoxious than any of them, but that’s another blog post altogether.

We took the train again with my dad across the country, and while I had learned some lessons the last time (in terms of making it a little more comfortable for us), what I hadn’t learned was how to avoid the obnoxious people. Even the car attendant was getting on my nerves at a certain point, and it was her job to be my BFF.

The worst was on the one night that we went up to the dining car to actually dine. Typically we just stay in the room and have it delivered, or eat our own food. Stupidly I suggested we go on the first night, though, and we were seated next to the most obnoxious woman EVER.

“Is there a tilapia on this menu? There’s supposed to be a fish. This isn’t right.”

“Are these mashed potatoes made with Idaho potatoes? Instant? This isn’t right.”

“It’s so cold in here, can you turn down the air? This isn’t right that it’s so cold in here.”

“You charge for wine? Oh that isn’t right. Are you sure there is not tilapia available?”

“Arnold, what was the problem in the baaaaaaathrooooooom? You couldn’t get it out? Oh that isn’t right.”

#2 Hotels Are A Reminder That Not Everyone Practices Effective Family Planning

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Last night my cousin and I were talking about the natural, Catholic family planning course she and her fiance had to take (their wedding is one of the reasons we are in town). As if her description of the Catholic-approved “birth control” (if you can call it that) methods weren’t horrifying enough, I realized this morning that probably a lot more people practice it than you’d think.

How did I realize? If you know anything about the natural, Catholic-approved family planning “birth control,” you know that it doesn’t work. Everyone that uses it has a shit-ton of kids.

Each family I saw staying in our hotel has six or more children. One family had nine, and the mother was pregnant with the tenth. And while the children running around screaming is not noticeable while we are in our nice, relatively soundproof suite, the continental breakfast is a much different story.

It was like the state of nature with free Cheerios and waffles. Children were running around between tables, smacking the chairs and yelling “blah blah blah blah blah.”

Snot flowed everywhere.

Every thirty seconds a child would fall or trip or run into something or bite their tongue or smash their head into their cereal bowl and loud crying would commence.

All-the-while mine just sat there in horror. After about ten minutes I got a “can we go back to our room now?”

So that’s where we are. A lot of observations, and at the same time a lot of really loving being home. It should come as no surprise to all of you that I really dislike California. Sorry, it’s just the truth. I’m allergic to everything there. I think a lot of the people I have encountered are narcissistic, self-centered, overly-career focused a-holes.

And honestly, I just prefer the Midwest.

If it makes me a bad person to have a personal preference other than palm trees and beaches, well than so be it. All I know is that as our train rolled its way towards the Chicagoland area, the water towers and the rolling lands and the humidity that everyone complains about were so wonderfully “home” to me that I could taste it. It tasted like pizza and hot dogs and the White Sox and my childhood; my family, my friends, and everything I’ve always loved.

Fall Makes Me Homesick

Therefore, it needs to end now.

I got really into fall at first. I do every year. I got the pumpkins. And the goards and shit. Halloween was a big fucking fiasco of costumes and events and more events and hayrides. I’ve baked tons of pumpkin-flavored things, and will bake more. We’re even hosting a Thanksgiving-themed open house the weekend before Thanksgiving.

But it makes me super homesick too.

I miss the falling leaves that give the time of year the title “fall.” We have some in California, but those aren’t brown and golden and red. They’re green and caused by 90 degree Santa Ana winds, and I’m allergic to them.

I miss the change of the weather. People say “oh … we have a change of weather here.” You don’t say? Because next week it’s projected to be in the mid-80s again and I’ll be sitting inside in the air conditioning as Thanksgiving closes in. Change of seasons?

I miss having my family close by. I have my dad here and my husband’s family, and of course my mom’s trailer trash family; but it isn’t my family. Most of them don’t want much to do with me either. And it isn’t my aunt and uncle that helped my dad raise me after my mom left. It’s not my cousins. It isn’t my vast group of friends that I have always considered to be closer than some of my closest blood relatives. There isn’t that same sense of community I had growing up.

So fall makes me homesick. But who am I kidding? Just about every time of year, and every thing I see, makes me homesick. It goes without saying I’m ready for this experiment of living on the West Coast to come to an end.

Until it does, and as fall continues on and I continue to feel homesick around every turn of every bend, I hold fast to the things that I have here that I call home.

Pizza, Deli Sandwiches, and Pumpkin Pie

Pizza is my most staple food item when I get homesick. I don’t want to hear anybody’s crap about how bad that is for me either. A pizza with nothing but cheese (which is how I like it), or even pizza dough with other ingredients (like in the picture above), has less saturated fat and cholesterol on it than some salads. Deli-style sandwiches with nothing but a slice of cheese and loads of lettuce come in at a close second.

Pumpkin pie is also a big homesickness-reliever, which is good because as compared to apple pie, cherry pie, cheesecake, cake, candy, and other desserts, pumpkin pie without the crust is fat free. I can eat bucketfuls of that shit (and believe you me, I do) without all the guilt.

Cheesy 80s and 90s Movies

How many cheesy 80s movies are not set in the Midwest, and particularly in Chicago? From Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun to Ferris Buehler’s Day Off; into the 90s with High Fidelity. I even watch Father of the Bride, parts I and II. The scenery, the weather, the culture I grew up with all makes me feel just a little bit better when I’m feeling homesick.

Chicago Team Gear

I have enough Chicago team gear to get me through any bout of homesickness. I have a sweatshirt from my high school, two hoodies from the Chicago Bulls, a third hoodie that just says ‘City of Chicago,’ two White Sox t-shirts, two Bears shirts, a Bulls shirt that doesn’t fit, I have a Bulls bumper sticker on my car, two Bulls lanyards I have yet to use, and my computer even has a sticker of Michael Jordan on the back of it.

And I have a story to go with all of it, which I’m sure the people in my immediate life are sick of hearing. But if they’re so sick of hearing it, or sick of hearing about how homesick I am, they can maybe stop being so stubborn and give the Midwest a shot (ahem …..).

My Fun Fall Swap

Lastly, I participated in this thing called a Fun Fall Swap. Some bloggers that were into the fall stuff (as I was initially) decided to get together, have one person send out “secret swapper” info, and then we all had one month to send out a fall-themed gift.

I got mine a week ago, and while I cannot figure out for the life of me who sent it (I’m betting it’s either “My Brain On Kids” or “Diapers Or Wine“…), it is nonetheless the best of the swap gifts I have seen so far.

UPDATE: It was Quirky Chrissy … I love her more than I love french toast. If you know me, you know that’s a big deal.

Knowing how in love I am with all-things-Midwest, my secret swapper sent me this awesome reprint of a World’s Fair Chicago poster. I know what you are saying: “how in the hell is that fall?” Well, duh … it says November. That’s more fucking fall than all the hay bail, pumpkin, and brown-colored shit out there.

My fun fall swap could not have come at a better time: when I’m homesick. Sitting on the couch in yoga pants and my Bulls sweatshirt that is beginning to smell a little bit like feet since I won’t stop wearing it; with half-eaten slices of pizza around me and pumpkin pie smeared on my face. As I continue to shovel more pumpkin pie and stare longingly at Michael Jordan on the back of my computer, with 80s movies on Netflix playing on repeat in the background. And every time Sarah Jessica Parker says in the opening scene of ‘Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun’: “My daydream was always the same – that some day I was gonna’ get to Chicago, because that’s where they make Dance TV,” I mouth the words, bits of deli sandwich falling out of my mouth to mix with my homesick tears.

My fun fall swap arrived just in time to save me from this destitute.

Okay, it didn’t save me from shit. Framed, it now sits next to me on the couch and joins the ranks of things I stare longingly at. But it’s still a good thing. Big, big thanks to whomever my fall swapper was … your pick was perfect.

Now I would love for fall to be over. So then we’ll get through the holidays and holiday time depression can be over, then it will be a new year and who knows what the new year will bring?