i knew there would be days like this, and i signed up anyway

winter view
(view from my window, right now)

The only conceivable justification for my current apartment is the view. Which I do adore. Except, when the weather is windy and rainy outside, you get to see it in all its ugly dysplendor. That can actually be quite fun to watch when you are staying in anyway. And, when you must go up to the office then at least you’ve got a full view to prepare for what the reality is. When you are in-between—say, you really feel you should go up to campus, although it’s hard to spell out precisely why you feel that way—it’s a great promoter of precipitation-borne procrastination.

I’ve had, in my life, a couple of opportunities to be at great universities located in places that do not have winter. As I was contemplating these possibilities, I remember thinking, “They don’t have winter.” With a kind of wonder, as if I was contemplating a place where all the parking meters were made of peppermint sticks.  “They don’t have winter.”

When I tell people how I really don’t like winter, a common response is “Didn’t you grow up in Iowa? You’re used to it.” In my drama-queen mind, this is exactly equivalent to having somebody who is getting picked on by their co-workers, and who you know got picked on a lot as a child, and telling them, “C’mon? You’re used to it.” I didn’t like winter then, I don’t like winter now.

So, yes, as the post-title says, I knew in principle there were going to be days like this, and I signed up for this place anyway. Although: I didn’t know it was going to be so windy! Sure, you think, how can somebody move to Chicago and not expect it to be windy? It’s The Windy City. I believed all those trivia nerds who say “the Windy City” nickname was not about weather at all but about the city’s politicians. (Also, as an added bonus, my apartment has these alley-like corridors on both sides of it, which creates this strange atmospheric effect where it seems to be like 25-50% more windy right in front of my apartment than a half a block down the street in either direction.)

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

9 thoughts on “i knew there would be days like this, and i signed up anyway”

  1. It’s pretty bad here, too. It occurred to me to call the student I need to coordinate with to figure out whether I really need to go to campus or not today.

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  2. I thought about this a lot last year when living in Stanford. I did just fine without the winter cold, thankyouverymuch. That said, there are some wonderful places (including many superb cities) located in climates that may not be ideal all the time, but that are still well worth the few days of wind and rain (snow rarely bothers me). Plus Chicagoland in particular can be so sunny at any time of year, definitely a big plus! And even on a windy day, the lake is beautiful.

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  3. I can certainly understand how a two foot walk could be a strong disincentive to leave the house. Just putting on enough layers to cope with the weather is enough sometimes.

    One of the reasons my advisor took a job in a city with Winter was so that his kids wouldn’t grow up spoiled by the weather. I certainly never appreciated it until I moved here. I actually used to feel cold at home, and complain about it sometimes, but I didn’t even need to own a single hat or scarf! It seems a lot more like a magical peppermint-stick-parking-meter land now…

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  4. I don’t really like winter either, unless it is something that I have deliberately chosen to experience. By that, I mean driving up to the mountains to play around in the snow, sit in front of the fire in a nice warm cabin, etc. And then driving back down to where I live, where there’s a bright blue sky and it’s relatively warm.

    Forced wintry experiences, such as scraping ice off the car windshield or struggling to get a froze-shut car door open, on the other hand, is not my idea of fun.

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  5. It’s pretty grim here right now, too. Looks like it’s going to get down to 34 tonight, and the high over the weekend is only going to be in the mid-60s. I had to put sheets over my citrus trees the last few nights. I think I’ll make myself a mug of hot chocolate and sit it out.

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  6. I grew up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, and know how biting the wind off the lake can be. Bitter!

    When I moved to Duluth, Minnesota, though, I discovered that I really didn’t know anything about blizzards and storms – nor about how to really enjoy winter. Now I can’t imagine going back to some milder climate.

    (Tonight’s low: 8. Predicted high temp for Saturday: 18. Snowfall: about a foot in the last week, probably 18 inches on the ground in most places. Beautiful)

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  7. Well, the weather is gorgeous here, sunny and cool…I think we’re going to ride bikes on campus later and yesterday the kids played outside for two hours, sans coats.

    You know, in Houston, you have to take what you can get, weather-wise…and after the last two winters in Madison, we expect to enjoy the next three months greatly. And then it will get HOT. For a long time.

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