Menacing Midwinter

The rabbit survived. So did I.

The glass exploded. One just like the one pictured there, on the windowsill.

It didn’t “break.”  It didn’t “shatter.”

It exploded.

I could not believe how much glass was in that glass.

It was everywhere – inside and under the dishwasher I had just taken it out of, under the fridge across the floor, into the living room and the breezeway.

Tiny shards of it in my fingers and the meat of my hand.


I had just taken it out of the dishwasher, and accidentally tapped it – just tapped it -on the underside of the Bulgarian-installed quartz countertop.


It exploded.

Rational minded me instantly assumed that I had chanced upon the perfect point on the glass that was scratched or hairline cracked or otherwise weakened just enough to cause some sort of scientifically explainable reaction.


I had to vacuum the inside of the dishwasher along with the kitchen and breezeway floors, missing a church service I wanted to attend, because it was unsafe for my daughter or Sophie the cat to walk through the kitchen until I was sure it was shard-free.

Earlier that morning, the relatively new television started acting weird, too, providing sound but no picture – just an odd sort of lavender glow.

Turns out I had connected the HDMI cables in the wrong inputs after switching out the DVR for a no-charge simple cable box (which still makes me mad – that even though I get internet service from this provider and I could watch TV via internet only, they still make me have a box and their salesperson was unable to give a technical reason why  – grrrr.)

Then the shelf on the new hutch on my new desk half-collapsed – one of the pegs that holds it up just suddenly fell out.

What’s going on?

There was nothing significant about the date that I could remember. I don’t remember what I was thinking about, other than considering giving up on my book, and missing Mike, and feeling a little lost about my future, when the glass exploded.

After I got the glass cleaned up and the shelf fixed, I spent a lot of time trying to complete an online job application, and just as I was finishing it, my computer spontaneously shut down.

Just turned itself off.

Wind? Was there a power surge and the strip cut the power? But the lights on all the other chargers plugged in to the strip were still on.


These past few days, every time I veer in the direction of giving up on my notions of writing, speaking and singing, something interrupts, or switches off, or falls apart, or explodes.

It doesn’t feel like encouragement.

It feels like menace.

I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweaty panic, wondering what the hell I’m doing and what could happen, all the bad stuff that could happen, in my capacity as a professional-class worst-case-scenario OCD worrier.

My heart races. I cringe and writhe, remembering long-ago embarrassments, mistakes, and failures, imagining they will all happen again now, and be much worse. I read nonsense on my phone for two hours to try to calm down and go back to sleep.

And then, today: a sparkling bright, perfect winter day. No extremes. Just a spotless blue sky, sunshine and fresh snow on the ground.

One day of calm, after the vortex, and the ice, and the wind and the windblown snow.

The house has stopped creaking and snapping and kerpowing, now that the temperature has moderated, but I predict a spate of “giant potholes that ate Chicago” blog posts and news stories, come spring, because of the insane temperature swings we’ve had. A thaw-and-freeze cycle that cracked steel holding up Lake Shore Drive is surely causing concrete and asphalt pavement to crack and crumble all over the area.

Old Sophie caught a mouse last night, and lovingly left it’s gnawed corpse as an offering  in the middle of the library rug.  She’s still got it, the old girl. I just wish she wouldn’t flaunt it in the middle of the library rug.

But we’re gaining daylight – the sun is up when I rise, now, and I can still contemplate a walk in the late afternoon.

It’s too soon to say we’ve turned a corner – March is yet to come, all lion and lamb, and it always, always snows one more time in April.

Waiting for the clock to run out on the agents who have my query and trying to screw up the courage to start another round instead of giving up, I remain,

Your anxious, worried, but like the backyard rabbit who survived the vortex by hiding under the deck, as yet unconquered by winter extremes and associated all-night-vigils,


Let’s Layer Some OCD on That Last Post


A few updates to my polar vortex post.

I revised it, to make it clear that I understand this is a very dangerous, life threatening situation.

And because I’m not that idiot 20-something that went outside in temperatures like this anymore.

That was a spectacularly stupid thing to do.

Just so we’re clear.

Please go back and read the revised version of that last post.



Because I worry about you. Pretty much all the time. It’s what I do best.

And because the wind is picking up.

I’ll be here, worrying about you, and praying for anyone still looking for a place to go.

Fretting, and listening to every pop and creak coming from inside and outside the house, I remain,

Your penitent, concerned, perseverating


The Obligatory Polar Vortex Post

Vortex, schmortex….

Yep, that “snowpile” will be there until June.

“Snowpile” in quotes, because by the spring, this mini-mountain will have morphed into some other substance – an unmelting, filthy, grey conglomeration of salt, gravel, bits of asphalt, cigarette butts, lost mittens and coffee cups that fell off car roofs when the freezing drivers forgot the cups were there and just wanted to get into the damn car and warm up.

I’ll go back and take another picture of this in the spring just to see it’s not gone.

This one too:


And I’ll check on this tree to see when, or if, it gets any buds on it.


As you have heard ad nauseam, predicted low air temperatures here, tomorrow through Thursday morning may go as low as -21 (Farenheit) and Chicago may be colder than both Antarctica and Siberia tomorrow. And the wind chill may dip to -55.

This ain’t my first polar vortex rodeo (but I don’t remember it being referred to as a “polar vortex” back then. We just said, “it’s f….ing COLD.”)

If you look up “coldest temperature in Chicago” you’ll get -27 on January 20, 1985 – but that was actually a tie: it also reached -27 on January 10, 1982.

On that day I was living in a tiny, roach-infested studio apartment in a thin-walled, crappily built 4 + 1 (one of those really, really ugly Chicago apartment buildings where the first floor is raised above a parking area underneath).

And on that day, I put on pretty much every article of clothing I owned, including a long wool coat over a winter parka on top of a turtleneck under a flannel shirt under two sweaters on top of each other, wrapped my head in a couple of wool scarves with a hat on over those, put on a doubled pair of mitts (mittens, inside ski mitts, yes – try gloves on a day like that and you’ll come back minus a few fingers – if you come back) and I went outside.


Stupid kid that I was, I waited for a bus.

Because the CTA buses were running.

The streets had that arctic fog that floats about a foot above the ground. I forget what causes it. I’m sure there’s a weather nerd out there who can explain it to us in the comments. Please do.

Anyway, I got on the bus and I went to an acting class scheduled for that day.

And the instructor and three other students ALSO SHOWED UP.

Welcome to Chicago.

The wind chill that day was, purportedly, -80.

That’s what they said, anyway. Didn’t feel a degree lower than -60, to me.

I survived, and as far as I know, so did the instructor and the other two students. We did have to cut it off early, though, because the class area was just too cold. Or we couldn’t move in all those layers. Or both.

Somewhere in Chicago today (but please God, not tomorrow, c’mon, guys, there’s a limit) you will see a guy (always a guy) outside, wearing shorts.

You will see many, many guys (again, guys) outside without hats. Some without gloves (or mittens, dammit). Imagining their cars will always start, they’ll only be out for a minute, etc.

Some of those guys will end up in the hospital with preventable frostbite.

You will also see fleets of vans and box trucks, creeping along Lower Wacker or beneath underpasses along the Edens Expressway tonight, passing out sleeping bags, blankets, hot soup and coffee, and trying to convince the people they are helping to come inside a shelter or a warming center. God bless those devoted helpers.

For those who refuse to come inside, may God protect and keep you. But please, don’t refuse. Doors will be open around the city for you. Go in. GO INSIDE NOW.

This year, fortunately, more and more businesses have come to their senses and announced they will be closed tomorrow.

I’ll make a big pot of “Dad’s magic chicken soup” – the kind Mike used to make, and taught me how to make, before he died – that will keep us nourished, along with a pot of chili and some canned cream of mushroom, until Friday.

I’m damned if I’m going out there before Friday.

Because I don’t have an acting class to attend.

And I’m not an idiot kid anymore.

Shorts guy? Put some damn pants on.

Hatless guy? How many times do we have to tell you that you lose most of your body heat out the top of your head?

Gloveless guy? Do you work with your hands, at all? Do you find you need your fingers to, I don’t know, type an a computer? Play an instrument? Hold a tool? Put you damn gloves on – no, wait, mitts.

Stay safe and warm out there. No I mean, DON’T GO OUT THERE. AND IF YOU ARE OUT THERE, COME INSIDE RIGHT NOW.

Putting on another sweater, I remain,

Your loyal, devoted, gutting-it-out-in-layers-on-layers and expecting arctic street-fog,