Contemplating The U.S. Navel

Me, Chicago, Hollywood and The Federal Government

Becky Sarwate

Becky Sarwate
Chicago, Illinois, USA
December 31
Communications Manager
Insurance Brokerage
I am about as liberal as they come, and please don't expect to change me, though I do sometimes sneak up on you with a surprise (pro-death penalty, for instance). Although gainfully employed as a full-time Marketing Manager, I keep my toes in the freelance pool as a journalist, theater critic, blogger and proud President of the Illinois Woman's Press Association. To read my work on this page is to find vignettes about Chicago, Hollywood, my own turbulent life, and of course, my number one passion: local and national politics.


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DECEMBER 2, 2010 9:43AM

Winter Wanderlust

Rate: 11 Flag



Yesterday Chicago experienced its first "measurable snow fall" of the season. The words in quotes are presumably the local meteorologist buzz terminology, since I heard them from no fewer than three weather people during an afternoon of channel surfing. Anyway, the old familiar routine is back: tying a scarf around my head, and over my winter hat and the hood of my ski jacket, just so I can survive a walk of three blocks or so. The high yesterday was a balmy 30, but factoring in the wind chill, the air temperature felt like 12 to citizens of the Windy City.


I have returned to a dilemma I have wrestled with since my high school years. How can I love Chicago in all its multi-cultural, stimulating fabulousness yet endure six months of weather that appears to be some frozen demon's diabolical plan?


As I am unemployed and typically have some extra time on my hands each day, I have taken to obsessively watching reruns of Notorious and City Confidential on the Bio channel, the sister station to A&E. Once I recovered from the awesomeness that is Bill Kurtis in a leather bomber jacket narrating the former show (put Bill K. and the deceased Robert Stack and his trench coat in a head to head walk off - I know who would win), I remembered how much I used to love the latter in my college days. Although the 2004 death of City Confidential's host Paul Winfield basically ensures that no new installments of the program will ever be produced, this does not at all hamper my enjoyment of the greatest hits.


City Confidential's format is a brilliant hybrid of geographic history and the true crime format. For the first 30 minutes, we get the location and backstory of an American city or town: its founding fathers, sustaining industries, local customs and quirks. Once that is out of the way, the attention turns to a heinous and sensational crime that, according to Winfield, "shook this sleepy, neighborly town to its core." If you are not ready for this gear shift, it is easy to believe you may have accidentally leaned on the remote and changed channels.


This week, among many episodes I have ingested, my interest was particularly peaked by the "Brownsville, Texas" installment. Although I didn't much care for the town's penchant for superstitious hexes and the murders that tend to follow, I found myself suddenly willing to overlook this flaw, as well as the state of Texas's love for the death penalty and concealed weapons, when Paul Winfield informed me that daytime highs in this Mexican border hamlet are typically in the mid to late 70s in December.


Now we're talking.


In my quest to find the right second home for my snow bird fantasies, I also learned of a potential mentor right here in my home town. My friend and personal trainer Rob was recently bequeathed a downtown apartment and all the furniture and fixtures inside of it by a childhood acquaintance, a bartender by trade who simply decided to board a plane to Hawaii and be done with it. This gentleman, Chris, landed a position at a Hyatt resort in Maui, looked at the potential expense of moving all his belongings to paradise and said "Fuck it, who needs that stuff anyway?" So he asked Rob to take over the remainder of the two-year lease to his tony, trendy convertible unit, at a steal of a sublet price, packed his clothes and toiletries, and literally flew off into the night.


While I adore the free spirited nature of such a move, I am not sure I have the balls. Unlike me, Chris is unmarried, does not have a car payment or local family, but in the end, those are really just collateral excuses to hide the panic I would feel if I were to undertake such a shift. I'd be like an anxiety ridden third grader who was forced to change schools. "What will I do when I get there? What if nobody likes me?"


So it appears that, lacking Chris's pioneering spirit, I am going to have to find a way to get through the next six months, until mid-May when Chicago starts to feel inhabitable once more. It would be cool if I could morph into a brown bear and hibernate the time away. It's not like I have a job to miss me.

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I to was once a big fan of City Confidential. The narrative always had the seeming ability to transport one into an unfolding drama in another place and time. Then I saw their episode dealing with the Amityville Horror and having grown up 2 houses down from the Defaeos my childhood BFF lived at 108 Ocean Ave and the Defaeo house was 100 Ocean Ave and having intimate acquaintance with the Defaeos, Dawn was a grade ahead of me, Allison a grade behind in the same catholic schools. I will tell you right now that City Confidential sacrifices reality to adhere to their format. Believe nothing of what you see on it. I will just give you one example “Amityville is an affluent sleepy bedroom community”. Reality: Amityville high school is about 80% minority, North Amityville is the worst ghetto on Long Island if not NY State especially at the time of the murders, and those bars that Butchy hung out in on Merrick Road were ground zero for the Pagans motorcycle Gang and a heroine epidemic.
Becky, I love Chicago and have tried to convince my South-Texas-raised hubby to consider it as a relocation possibility. The weather stops that dead in its tracks every time!
Great post! Wow, that's a bunch of snow...I too am having this dilemma as I love my mountain-y town but all this freakin' cold and snow is just......aaggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Wow, that is a lot of snow. Our's has only covered the ground. But the days are sure dark and gray. If we can live to Dec 21, then at least the days gets longer.
Whatever you do, DO NOT move to Brownsville, Texas. Or Anywhere, Texas. I don't care what the temperature is.
I was in pretty good shape. I got a job in the city, the windy city. I walked a couple miles from the train station to my office a street over from the Mag mile. Winter came. Cabs. No more walking. Too much ice, too much cold. Made me feel very old. Now I work, I use that term lightly, from home. No Ice No Cold No Cab.
Oh wonderful image and such cold memories. I remember in Maine we used to get dumped on. I hear Chicago though is truly cold as well plus windy.
Winter, sigh. Austin is really the only place to consider in Texas ;0
I was born Jan 18th 1939.
When it came time to go to the hospital(Loretto in Columbus Pk) there was snow & ice on the roads.
My mother had to get behind the wheel when my father had to push the car away from the curb.
Rubbing the steering wheel must be the reason I've always had a spce between my front
I KNEW I would hate winter when 15" of snow fell 12 days later on Jan 30th.
What a disgusting start to one's life.
My parent had an apt somewhere in Cicero or Berwyn at the time.
I escaped the 4 biggest snowstorms in '67, '70, '79 & '99.
I'm not at all sorry about that.
Here's a pic of my yard here in WI which was taken 2 years ago~~


Here's one of a nicer day~~