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I’m cold. And I’m miserable. For decades, people have been telling me, and I’ve been accepting, that a Chicago winter “builds character.” After 20+ years, I’m calling bullshit.

Here, the theory goes, we are such hearty stock that we can get through a six-month period of cold, gray weather and come out the other end as stronger, better people. Twenty-some years later, I am not only not stronger and better, I am a weak wreck, a cold, dry, pale, whiny, worse person all around.

I’ve bought the character-building BS for so long that I’ve even taken to booking cold-weather locales for my January getaways. Russia, Estonia, and Finland were my most recent overseas adventure, and a ski weekend in Utah was my last fling before going back to work this past week.

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Don’t get me wrong – I embraced the cold and snow as part of the whole Nordic package, and I happily skied down windy slopes last weekend. I’ve come to realize that I can handle the cold – even enjoy it – as part of an adventure, but I no longer have any interest in it as part of my daily life here at home. I’m the hardy soul that relished two straight weeks in unheated huts along the trail to Everest Base Camp, eight days in a chilly tent doing the Paine Circuit hike in Chile, and the toe-numbing city walks I took this month in Russia.

But I’m done now. I’m back to work and can barely tolerate the short walk from the parking lot into my building. I don’t want to walk the dog, not even around the block. I put off grocery shopping, exercising, and errands because I can’t bear to leave the house. My brain is as dull as the gray haze I see outdoors, and my mood is as flat as the light at 42 degrees north. Celestial Seasonings has stopped making my favorite tea. My limbs are stiff, and I feel so sluggish that I want to nap mid-afternoon … and I am very much not a napper. I am given to complaining all the time, and have even resorted to using my upbeat blog as a venting venue! And with that unpleasant realization, I bid you adieu – see you in about three months or whenever I next head south!

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