Chicago Froze Over
January 7, 2014
I started my blog this time last year with a post called “Hell Froze Over.” The premise was that I—a self-described political junkie—had moved out of the Humboldt Park/Logan Square neighborhood where I had long been active politically and had taken a sabbatical from politics. No one could believe it. Hell had frozen over.
My plan was to reflect in writing all year long about what I had learned/was learning through it all.
A year later, I haven’t kept up with my blog. But my personal break from politics has largely continued until lately. Meanwhile, Chicago, Illinois, and national politics go on as usual.
In the midst of below zero high temps, the current hot topic is whether—in the aftermath of back-to-back snowstorms followed by record-breaking cold—the just-back-from-vacation mayor has ensured adequate City response to streets that still need to be plowed. And whether and how much the power of the Chicago Teachers Union caused the Chicago Public Schools officials to flip-flop on their initial decision to keep schools open during this deep freeze.
Others who made an about-face on similar decisions these days include my friends in Humboldt Park who put on the annual Three Kings Day Winter Festival and Parade. Yesterday was to be the 20th anniversary of the event. But after first modifying the parade plans to make it more of a caravan, the hosts eventually relented altogether and decided it was safer for everyone to just stay home.
So that left me with too little to do.
You see, my family has made it tradition to attend the annual parade on Division Street, fondly known as Paseo Boricua. We meet up at Café Colao for coffee and hot chocolate and wait for the parade to make its way down the street. And then we usually gather at my home to cut the traditional Rosca de Reyes and open presents.
But the winter weather messed up all of our plans. My dad’s health doesn’t let him go out in this cold, even if he wanted to. My mom and I were tempted to go hang out at that favorite coffee house and watch the parade/caravan despite the cold—hard core Chicagoans and Dia de los Reyes celebrants that we are. But then that was canceled. (Good thing, ‘cause my Puerto Rico-raised hubby thought we were nuts to even consider it.) To top it off, my brother and nephew were scheduled to come back from a trip to Florida just in time for our family gathering, but their flight was cancelled and rescheduled for two days later (lucky them.)
So, as I sat in my living room yesterday, hunkered-down for the second day in a row like much of Chicago to avoid the snow and -40 wind chills, I had more time on my hands than originally planned.
What is a girl to do? (Why, write a blog post, of course.)
You see, I’m not good at being unscheduled for too long. At relaxing. And reflecting. I like to keep busy. It is my normal mode.
That’s a big part of what has been reinforced for me during my sabbatical and since. You see, it doesn’t take me being involved in politics for me to get very busy. Over-busy.
Which is why I discontinued writing the blog last spring. But a number of people have brought it up recently, saying they missed my pithy posts. One person asked whether I stopped writing about swearing off politics because I was no longer swearing off politics. That’s not it, actually. I’ve continued to keep my head pretty low when it comes to politics, at least until the last couple of months.
I just got overwhelmed with other things and knew I had to fight to maintain some balance. The blog was one thing I knew I could let go as I picked up more and more responsibility at work. I’ve been trying not to fill every moment with obligations so I could have some free time for other things. Family time. Friend time. But I have mostly lost the battle. My professional life took over.
The weight of my work got so heavy that I had to quit. Well, that’s a major over-simplification of why I pursued a new job opportunity. But I do remember thinking that I seem to have to make a major change to stop the momentum from continuing to build.
Why can’t I just get a hold of the pace and intensity? I guess it’s fine that my normal mode is go-go-go. I’m just wired that way. But why does the pendulum often swing too far in that direction? How can I keep it closer to resting at equilibrium? Cutting back on things I don’t absolutely have to do—like writing my blog—was part of my pursuit of discipline. The discipline required for my life to at least approximate equilibrium.
As I start a new year, I’m starting a new job. And hitting the refresh button on the struggle to keep things in balance. In this midst of the polar vortex, today I took on a new challenge as Statewide Housing Coordinator for Long-Term Care Reform in the Illinois Governor’s Office.
That being the case, I don’t think I can promise to stay out of politics going forward. Though my professional role is not related to the campaign, my new boss is up for re-election this year. Besides, I went to political fundraiser for a candidate for state representative before the holidays. And I have a few more campaign donations for local races that I plan to make. I can’t imagine there won’t be any politics in my near future.
But I do intend to pick up where I left off the blog last spring—trying to maintain some balance while reflecting out loud about my experiences with and opinions about politics. I was poised to speak into some of the hot political topics our society seems obsessed with.
Maybe that will heat things up around here.