Fear and Loathing in the Polar Vortex

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By Mary Kay O'Grady


How can somebody who has huddled indoors for two months be exhausted? I am. It's the stress shared by many my age. Is it too cold to go out? What if my car gets stuck? Will I fall? If I go out this afternoon, will it be freezing and snowy when I come home tonight? Should I plan to go to the theatre next week, or will it be zero and snowy? Exhausting.

Like many people my age, I have a chronic condition, asthma, which is God's way of telling me to stop talking. According to all the specialists I've seen over the years, I shouldn't go out in extreme cold or extreme heat. That leaves spring and fall, when I'm supposed to avoid pollen. Why do I live in Chicago? Remind me.

I must say my view from the windows of the 11th floor brought me a lot of joy this winter. The worst snowstorms were beautiful, even at night when caught in the lights. Quite a few of the storms started with giant snowflakes blowing every which way - even upwards - before landing. I could tell how cold it was when I looked down at the chimneys - the colder it was, the more it looked like merry olde England and the more the birds squeezed themselves by the dozen around the warmth of the chimney tops.

January was made bearable by walking across the street to see all the Oscar-nominated movies at the Lake. However, in February they piled on the sci-fi/shoot-em-up/animateds.

I did get to Florida for a week in February. All the joy dissipated when I walked out of Midway Airport wearing bright-colored linen slacks and shirt, but also winter coat, scarf, gloves and hat. When people ask me if I had a good time, they really don't want me to tell them that one day it was 85 and humid, so we went to the movies to cool off.

I could have used this winter to accomplish something, like improving my French or writing more blogs. Instead I watched an excessive amount of TV and made excessive trips to Facebook.

My major coup was that I got as far as Wednesday or Thursday doing the New York Times crossword puzzles. I was sort of embarrassed that I knew one of the answers, BIG ANG, the fearsome hermaphroditic lead character in a show called Mafia Wives. I swear I only channel-surfed it, but frankly, I watched worse. I don't watch FOX, but I realized that my beloved left-leaning MSNBC is self-gratification by the hour.

Is this just an aberration or part of global change and will we get back to normal soon? Well, I turn 74 next week and I was born in an ice storm, so don't count on March.

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