I have been travelling to Chicago for exactly 2 weeks for work. Now, before you get too excited, let me be more specific - I have been travelling to the Chicago O'Hare airport for 2 weeks. My client isn't in the sexy downtown area (which I still have not seen). Oh no. That would be too glamorous. They are in the super unsexy suburbs.
Perhaps you have seen the unsexy suburbs of Chicago? For those who haven't, let me paint you a picture. First, it is completely flat. No hills, no nothing. For a mountain girl, the flatness is just depressing and boring. On top of that, there are no trees. The warehouses and business parks have evidently deforested the whole area. Any thoughtful strolls you may try to take to get to massively spread out and often non-existent restaurants are shattered by the shrill thrills of passing trains. And the number of titty bars in the area is astounding ("strip joints" is too classy a term for the dilapidated tanning salons that have been taken over). I don't approve of them, but at the same, there really is nothing else to do, so I guess I understand their existence. My favorite name is "Heavenly Bodies." Based on the $5 lunch special that comes with, I assume that it's meant to be ironic.
Okay, but to be fair, I'm describing a huge number of suburbs across the country. In the Northeast, the West, the South... these industrialish suburbs are pervasive.
What makes this suburb and the Midwest at large crazy to stay?
It is so. freaking. cold. All the time - every day. I mean, yes, I've heard that the summers are lovely. But it can't be worth it.
When I get up and go outside, the wind is piercing and you can't escape. Even my super fabulous vintage wool coat (with fur on the collar - so no joke) can't keep it out. When I'm at my desk in the middle of a vast cube farm of likewise exiled consultants, it's freezing. Everyone keeps their coats on inside. When I go into the conference room with windows, the meetings go twice as fast because everyone is trying to escape the even colder temperatures that seep in through the porous glass. It snows constantly - not always heavy, but just drizzly, gross snow that messes up your hair.
This is a cold unlike any that I have experienced, including Snowmageddon. It's the cold that find any possible weakness in your layering defenses and ruthless exploits it. It has that stinging sensation like a wax strip being ripped from your skin. Arrggh. I can't stand it. I know I should get pantyhose to mitigate, but my thoughts on that are documented (http://misadventuresfromthebrink.blogspot.com/2010/12/panty-hose-poem.html). I shouldn't have to do that! It's not like I'm running around outside - I am sitting at my desk, pushing my pencils like a good girl.
And I'm annoyed that Midwesterners pronounce the "wh-" sound so oddly. "Huh-w" like when sounds like "huh-wen."
Okay, I'm done being petulant. Midwestern people are really nice and are good at dealing with snow and are the anti-Yankee (i.e. cold climate people who choose to be cheerful rather than jerky). But they are also a little crazy to stay.
If you are a Midwesterner, please explain yourself. And give me tips on how to survive in this foreign clime.