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Into the Polar Vortex

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polar votex

So I arrived between ice blasts. I’m now 4000 miles from Birmingham with no Green Card (it’s on it’s way), no job, no driving license (and no car, so it hardly matters), and no home until next Friday. I’m not quite as ill-prepared as Christopher McCandless  but the Polar Vortex that has been engulfing the States this year has been a learning curve for the ten days I’ve been here.


  • You can throw a pot of boiling water into the air outside and create instant snow.
  • Many people have been hurt doing this – they didn’t check which direction the wind was blowing.
  • Whenever I stepped outside the first week, I’d say ‘Look! Fresh snow!’ with a sense of joy and wonder. Now, I say ‘Look… fresh snow’ with a growing sense of resentment at the inevitable daily car-scraping.
  • You can’t do that trick where you pour warm water over the car windscreen here – it just freezes. Engine on and scraper-brush out. Here is where you start paying. In sweat.
  • I now understand why there are so many massive gas-guzzling 4x4s over here – the weather is VERY cold every year, the terrain is harsh, and the people are determined to carry on as normal. You will not find any ‘leaves on the train line’ type excuses over here.
  • I will never consider leather a legitimate upholstery choice for my car again.
  • I have learned to click my heels like Dorothy Gale before stepping into any car – and yes, I do find myself thinking: ‘there’s no place like home…’
  • Conversations and general breathing in our car results in so much vapour that I think I’m in Cold War Vienna.
  • When taken out on a date by my husband, he wrapped me up so I looked like Randy from A Christmas Story. It wasn’t even Halloween.
  • It is considered the height of bad manners here in Michigan to enter a house with out removing your shoes.
  • The forced air system at our friend’s house where we are currently staying, dries out all the moisture from the air, which means I’ve had a 2-week nose bleed. Coupled with the flu, I look like Andrew WK (remember him children?). I bled into my cup of tea. It was gross.
  • I coughed up blood last week. Blood and mucus.
  • I’ve been told that to avoid winter nose-bleeds, everyone around here sleeps with vapourisers by their beds. Duly noted.
Yeah, 2001 was a good look for me.

Yeah, 2001 was a good look for me.

  • There is only so much chicken soup that one girl can take.
  • I have eaten all my Tastes-Of-Home tuck supplies. Yes, that includes a huuuuge bar of Cadbury’s wholenut.
  • I don’t go out. I just wait at home like a house-cat, awaiting my owner’s return. The term house-wife has taken on a new harder edge for me.
  • I have started to read a lot more Sylvia Plath.
Stay tuned for further details of my unravelling...

Stay tuned for further details of my unravelling…


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