Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Greetings from Chiberia! This is the new name/hashtag for the weather that has currently consumed Chicago. There's a lot of snow, but not quite enough to officially earn the "Snowpocalypse 2.0" title (which, if you could see how much snow is out there right now, then that is really saying something about Snowpocalypse 1.0!). Chiberia is a pretty apt description, however.

It is cold. Excuse my language, but it is really fucking cold out there. I have been checking my weather app nearly every hour for the past two days and it hasn't displayed a double-digit positive number since Sunday around 1:00 p.m. Currently it is one degrees Fahrenheit (it was zero degrees an hour ago so we're getting warmer - yay!) and "feels like" -15. Yesterday, my roommate and I joined all the other Chicagoans in performing the Boiling Water Experiment. I filled up a teakettle with water, waited until it started to boil, and then Molly and I went outside and poured the boiling water into the snow. You can really pour the water anywhere because the purpose of the experiment is watching the water immediately turn to snow/steam. It's pretty cool! A lot of people are burning themselves because they are taking pots of boiling water and tossing it in the air, which inevitably kicks some of the water back onto your skin. Molly and I were much smarter than that (although I did accidentally sink my foot ankle-deep in snow so that wasn't too fun).

Besides that, there is really not too much to say about Chiberia. The heat is my apartment is practically non-existent so as I type this post my windows are covered with towels to stop the cold air from seeping through (there's also frost on the inside of the windows...thank you to my landlord, Steve Bojic -- that's his real name!). I am wearing two hoodies and am snuggled under three blankets. It's also a Tuesday and it is the second day my office has been closed due to the weather. This was a wise decision because many of my coworkers live in the suburbs and last night the Metra trains suddenly cancelled all of their departures during the evening commuting hours. The school district has also been closed for a second day in a row and there are stories all over the news and Facebook of people being stranded in the airports and train depots because nothing is coming in or out of Chicago.

On Sunday I worked at Heartbeat Theatre. We are in the middle of a 3-week long story festival that we host every year and it is safe to say that this is a crazy time. From 3:00-10:00 p.m. Thursday - Sunday we have a different Chicago storytelling group/solo artist performing at either our theatre or at the Kentwood (from my Are You Kidnapping My Husband story). Snow had been pouring down on Chicago since Saturday afternoon. I was manning the box office and most of the calls I was receiving were, "Are you still having shows today?" The roads were awful and the Front of House (FOH) Manager later told me that we should have cancelled, but, as usual, we did not and the shows went on!

Around 1:30 p.m. the girl who was the shuttle driver for the day came to the theatre and reported that the parking lot had not been plowed. She had also gotten stuck numerous times on her journey to and from the theatre. "I'm sorry," she said to the FOH, " I can't drive in this. I just can't. I don't feel safe." I had just caused a tremendous paper jam in the ticket-printer so I immediately raised my hand, "I'll do it! You do box office and I'll shuttle!"

Luckily and sadly, I do not have any fun stories from driving the shuttle around in nearly two feet of snow. The lot was eventually plowed, but the snow never stopped falling. The plows could hardly keep up with the rate at which the snow was piling up. The van spun out and got stuck numerous times, but each time we persevered. I have since named the van Shackleton because of his impressive barreling-through-snow capabilities. I sat in the van for four hours and only shuttled two people. The last person and I bonded for about 15 minutes after I picked her up from the last show of the night and we sat behind two cars that were stuck: one was trapped in a parking space they were trying to pullout of and the other was stuck waiting for that parking place. Finally, the car directly in front of Shackleton moved up enough so that I could pull into an unplowed alley. Shackleton and I stopped and started numerous times as we created a path for the three other cars that decided to follow our lead down the alley and eventually we did make it to the next road. Shockingly, the middle seat of the van did not flip up once!

So that's all from Chiberia folks. Nothing too exciting, but that's mostly because none of us want to venture outside. My neighbours are trying to venture out, however. I keep hearing their cars squealing against the snow and ice in our alleyway. Last night, a car did this for forty minutes before they were finally able to make it out of the alleyway. Did I mention that not a single snowplow has graced our alleyway all winter? My landlord says, "The city will do it," but I don't see why they would when the alleyway is private property and Mayor Emmanuel has already cut the budget for snowplows this year. I made the mistake of asking my landlord if a plow would ever come through our alley or if we would just have to wait until the snow melts naturally (currently, I cannot get my car out of my parking space and Molly cannot get hers in). My landlord responded by calling me in hysterics about how I could possibly expect him to put a plow on the front of his car. Needless to say, that was not at all what I meant and clearly Chiberia is getting the best of everyone's sanity.

Stay warm!

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