It’s Official, I’m a Wuss


It looks the same, the sky, the ground, the trees, ok not really the trees, but it looks the same from inside the glass. But then I was outside. And it was different. It was cold.

Now the problem is that it really wasn’t cold. It was forty-eight degrees. Forty eight degrees in the Midwest in the Spring means that you wear shorts, irrationally but in celebration of the end of the sh*t that is Winter. And yes I capitalize the seasons because they are significant.

I have become a California wuss. I pulled my hands into my sleeves when I should be throwing a football around. The orange beauty of the Fall leaves meant nothing because I hurried my gait and couldn’t appreciate them. My blood has thinned, as I was warned. Or maybe my skin is thinner, I am certainly no longer thick-skinned. All I know is that it’s embarrassing to my former self who is snarling at me from some other time-space where the wind chill is twenty degrees below zero and it really is cold.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t think about it. I knew on the flight from Los Angeles to Chicago the temperature would drop. I was prepared with a sweater for the car ride. But that’s it. I didn’t go outside. I went from the airport to the car to the house. Until the next day. When I wanted to go for a run. That’s when it hit.

The pretty day from inside the glass was so deceptive that I almost wanted to don shorts and a t-shirt. That’s what I usually wear. That’s what I wore two days ago when I was a spoiled brat Southern Californian. That’s what I’ll wear when I go back.

Here’s my fear. That I won’t toughen up in two weeks. That I’ll go back and take it for granted that it’s eighty degrees and sunny in November. That I’ll complain when it drops to sixty and I need a sweatshirt at night. That I’m actually going to turn into one of them that thinks there are seasons in Los Angeles. That I’ll believe that the occasional sprinkling is actually rain. And that when it does truly drop to the forties in the middle of the night I’ll believe that it’s Winter. It’s not. It’s winter.

Nope, won’t let it happen. I can handle this, I spent over forty years living through it. It’s only dropping to thirty-five tonight, where’d I put those electric socks?

Top Ten Things I Miss About Chicago

10. El Tapatio sidewalk cafe on Ashland and Roscoe in the summer
9. Memorial Park
8. Wrigley Field
7. Da Bears
6. Mom*
5. Dunkin Donuts at Lincoln and Addison
4. The lakefront bike path
3. Friends (DB, TD, DD, JB, MM, RD, CF, DR, TJ, HR)
2. Cousins
1. Dad

*I put mom at number 6 because I haven’t gotten a “Brat!” email I’m a while.

I Miss the El

The difference between the public transportation systems in Chicago and Los Angeles is like the difference between something that’s very organized, convenient and efficient and something that is, not. Now it’s not all the Metro’s fault here in Southern California, it is a very spread out city and there is not the same Loop of Chicago’s downtown. So things don’t bleed into it as nicely from all corners. But there are some rather silly inconsistencies.

To Pay or not to Pay

The platforms of the lines here are all open, there are no turnstiles to pass through in order to access the trains. And the ones that they do have downtown are not locked for admission only if you pay. So really it’s on the honor system. And let’s face it, the honor system probably last worked in the time of Lincoln and that’s just because he was a good role model. But then again he was poor as a kid, so he probably jumped a train or two in his youth as well.

There are signs posted that there is a $250 fine if you’re caught without a ticket. Which people are caught all the time. I don’t know whether they get that fine or not, I do know that there’s not enough LA County sheriffs to monitor all the lines all the time and since I always see them writing someone up, I’m guessing that they’re only catching a small percentage of the offenders. Not that I’m complaining, I pay but I’m sure there’s a lot that can’t and they have to do what they have to do. As well, you have to pay on each line, unlike Chicago (and I think New York) where you get on one line and then you can transfer. Makes more sense to me.

But That’s Not What I Miss

But this blog is not about politics ((unless it’s funny (wait it’s always funny)) or public transportation, this is about the funny side of life. And what I miss most about the El (sorry, short for elevated train if you don’t know) is not the trains or the convenience or the expense, it’s the girls.

You see, nearly every morning during the Summer while I lived in Chicago, I would go to Einstein’s bagels on Southport Avenue, get my Powerbagel with peanut butter, and watch the women going into the station to g0 downtown to work.

Chicago only has a small window when you can see tan bodies; thin straps on golden shoulders and gorgeous legs in a skirt or summer dress wearing flip-flops until they have to change into their work pumps. It would brighten my day and give me the energy (the bagel helped too) to then ride my bike twenty miles along the Chicago lakefront where I could see more skin in bikinis and running shorts. Summer in Chicago is outstanding!

And then there’s the Blue Line

So now I’m in Long Beach, where one would think you could see the gorgeous girls every day of the year boarding the train for work. Nu-uh. Not quite the same scenery.

The equivalent here where I might be able to sit and enjoy a coffee (they have no bagel place downtown) also borders the park. And by park I mean Homeless Fields. It seems to be the main sleeping area for the city’s homeless and so in the early morning hours you are treated to the sights of the smelly and dirty (please excuse me, I’m sorry you’re in that situation, but a stinks a stink) and the grumblings and hangovers of those just waking up or still asleep.

Even just getting on the Blue Line in the morning hoping to catch some attractive women going downtown to work is not the same. You see, Los Angeles’ downtown is not the same as Chicago downtown. That’s not where everyone works; they work on the west side in the film and television industry. So you’re more likely to see a woman wearing skimpy clothes who has no business wearing skimpy clothes and I don’t see how they think it looks good. You see, California is a tease, but that’s tomorrow’s blog…

I Miss the Meatballs

I moved from Chicago to Southern California 2 1/2 years ago. I’d always wanted to move here and it’s turned out to meet those expectations like a concierge at a fancy hotel opening the door. But there’s things I miss about Chicago:

I miss the rain. It doesn’t rain here. Rain here is the equivalent of a cheap squirt gun-you get a lithe stream for a few squeezes of the trigger and then it just spits. People freak out here when it rains, since it happens so infrequently, but they have no clue what rain attacking at a 45 degree angle feels like.

I miss the thunderstorms. Again, infrequent rain=infrequent thunder, and please refer to the above to see how the rain here falls and then imagine how often thunder accompanies it.

I miss people flipping each other off. In Chicago, when you do something douche-y in your car, the other driver flips you off. Perhaps you return it, perhaps you just accept you deserved it. Either way, it’s part of the driving experience and it’s on the DMV test. If you do that in Southern California, you would think you’d slapped someone’s baby, the look is just “Dude, that’s harsh.” They also often say that. Fact is, there’s more douche-y drivers. More lanes=more opportunities for bad driving.

I miss skateboard-free sidewalks. OMG, you have to move out of the way! And it’s not just teens. Guys in their 30s use it as transportation. I see people dressed for work.

While we’re at it, ride your bike on the street! There is never any traffic in Long Beach, rush hour here could be compared to too many fat people on It’s a Small World, yet people insist on riding their bikes on the sidewalks. They even built bike lanes and no one uses them!

I apologize, that was not that funny. I just really needed to get that off my chest. Now let’s return to the subject of today’s blog:

I miss winter hats. On women, I don’t care about guys. But there’s something really cute about a woman in a winter hat, especially if she has long curly hair. Yesterday I saw a dude at the laundromat with a winter hat and a tank top. That’s just douche-y.

I miss: Grant Park and the spitting fountain in Millennium Park, really tall buildings that you almost fall over when you look up, Wrigley Field, the public transpiration system (the El) that’s sooo much better than it is out here, the street fests, Lincoln Square, the (better) guacamole at El Tapatio, St. Patrick’s Day really being celebrated and all the people I met there that I don’t see often enough when I visit.

I miss making my folks laugh every couple of weeks when I’d visit.

And, since I don’t get back often enough, I miss my mom’s meatballs.

I’m sure everyone in Chicago will get all of this and everyone in California will think I’m a douche. I’m flipping you off.