how to survive a chicago winter

6 Feb

Right about now is when I get very sick of people bitching about the weather.

Yes, I know it’s cold.

Yes, I realize there is snow on the ground.

Yes, I understand that it’s still cold, and more snow is (probably) on the way.

You do realize this is Chicago, right? And that happens here? Winter happens here? It does. It happens every year. Some years are worse than others. But no matter how you shovel it, Winter Happens In Chicago. This is not new and it is not news.

Therefore, you have two options: 1) Shut up about the weather and how much you hate it, or 2) Move to Florida or another warm weather-centric state.

I realize that option #2 may not be possible. Maybe you have a job here that you love. Or your kids are in the middle of a school year. Or you’re incarcerated. In that case, I offer you three tips on how to survive a Chicago winter for yet another year.

One: Don’t walk east-west between Wabash and Michigan. After much experimenting, I have found this stretch, no matter what street you’re on, is like walking through a wind tunnel. The air off the lake comes barreling down this short block, pushing you and pulling you, and generally bullying you around. Don’t take that shit. If you want to survive this winter, avoid the blocks that run east-west between Wabash and Michigan. You know what, if you can help it, only walk on north-south streets. Or maybe one of the angle streets. Sure, you may end up walking in circles and never quite reach your destination, but at least you won’t be bullied by air.

Two: Stop wearing so many clothes. I know everyone says the key to winter is layers. And layers are fabulous. And layers have all the answers. And layers make the world go ‘round. But you know what? All those layers are going to make you miserable once you get out of the cold and onto the stuffy bus on your commute to work, and you will find yourself stripping off those g-d layers one by sweat-soaked one, panting like a dog with perspiration rolling down your temples because you walked half of a block in all those layers. So take my advice, and yes, wear your down parka or your heavy wool coat, a scarf, a hat, boots, and mittens (because no one likes chapped hands). But underneath, just put on your bathing suit and call it a day.

Three: Look up and stop dragging your feet. Listen, I know you’re staring at the ground when you walk because you’re afraid of hitting a patch of ice and going ass over tea kettle. I get that. But if you want to survive this winter, stop looking solely at the ground, and look up at the people around you, otherwise you’re going to run straight into someone, knocking either him/her or yourself down into the watery slushy and hence ruining your winter coat (and possibly the bathing suit you should have on underneath). And no one wants a ruined coat, because without the coat you’re just in a bathing suit, and that would be bad when it’s -8. So look up, and look where you’re going.

And furthermore, once you’ve mastered the art of looking where you’re going, make it a compound movement by also picking your feet fully up off the ground when you walk. I get it, I do—snow boots are a lot heavier than regular shoes, and it’s somewhat akin to walking around with weights on your feet, and thus you’re inclined to drag your heels and clomp-shhhhffff-clomp-shhhhhfff down the sidewalk like an emo teen. But by dragging your feet you’re only wearing out the heels of your snow boots faster, which means that halfway through winter your feet are going to start to freeze because of thin heels, and it will make winter feel like it’s lasting that much longer because there is nothing better at slowing time down than freezing puds. By dragging your feet in those boots, you are making winter drag on longer. I’m not saying you have to march around town like a marine, but yes, actually that is what I’m saying.

Hup, two, people. You can make it. I know you can.


One Response to “how to survive a chicago winter”


  1. addendum to how to survive a chicago winter, or, an ode to fleece-lined leggings, but not so much to mascara | - January 21, 2015

    […] let’s add fleece-lined leggings to my invaluable list of How To Survive a Chicago Winter. Don said leggings on those days you’re feeling chilled, yet your desire to be stylish is still […]

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