winter

February.

The field organizer for an aldermanic candidate in my ward is 15 years old.Fifteen. There is a kid with braces and a bowl haircut standing on the street corner by Starbucks in the freezing cold, holding a stack of shiny cardstock handbills still in their copy-shop brown-paper packaging. Talking to passersby about the virtues of his candidate with the poise and composure of someone at least twice his age.

He has a BlackBerry, for God's sake.

When he came inside the café for a snack, I gave him my card and told him I'd love to help him in any way I could. When I was really thinking, "I need this child to help me figure my life out."

If a kid like that isn't enough to give you a crisis of confidence in your capabilities as an adult… I mean, I don't know.

Honestly, if February were any longer than 28 days, I'm not sure what would happen to me.

That blizzard we had last week delighted me at first in its novelty, and now the snow is just making me angry. I am angry at you, snow. You are ugly and grey and wet.

I'm angry at the season in general. You're making me depressed, Old Man Winter. You and Father Time and your patriarchal oppression. My feet are cold, and I'm lonely.

And I think it's safe to say I'm overextended. I have work. So much work. And work is a good thing, I suppose. It helps me pay my bills and buy things like kittens and steam mops. I'm writing and editing and helping fill the world with excellent content for all the good girls and boys.

But it's too much. I stay up working until 2:30 a.m.

Actually, I could just be really, really bad at managing my time. That's probably true.

But I would much rather blame external factors. Like winter. And the slow, spotty Internet I'm scamming from an unsuspecting neighbor. And my cat.

The worst part about overextending is that it leads to coming up short in other places. Like writing. And that's really frustrating.

The whole goal of quitting my full-time job was to make more time for writing. And I think I actually do it less now. But as I approach six months of this freelance gig — my, how time flies — I'm still working on that "cutting myself some slack" thing. Six months feels like ages, but it's barely a ripple in time. So are the 27 years I've lived so far. So it goes.

Listen to this song. It's by my friend Becky, who I've known since second grade and is now half of the amazing duo Barnaby Bright. (And if she's not enough to give you a crisis of confidence in, well…everything else in life, you're better than me. Amazing.) When you listen to that song, do you feel hopeless or filled with possibility? Becky Bliss — February: February reminds me that winter's behind me. And the flowers of another spring will come, and I'll have nothing to show.

I can't decide either. But March is another song altogether.

Snow-ly cow.

It was 53 degrees in Louisville on Sunday afternoon. My legs ached from six days pacing the same long stretches of hotel hallway between ballrooms and meeting space; my eyes were strained and bloodshot from too many too-short nights and even longer days spent under buzzing fluorescent light. I was dehydrated and hungry and homesick. I could have napped. I could have gone for a long, leisurely late lunch. But all I wanted was to run. And it was 53 degrees.

Families in bright red Louisville Cardinals sweatshirts were out for walks together, kids ran amok over thawing patches of mud and wood chips on the playgrounds, and dogs on leashes were everywhere, begging to be kidnapped and taken back to my hotel suite. There would have been room. I lost my place on the map as I tracked it online, but I think my meander through the park along the banks of the Ohio River was about four miles long. It was exhausting; those six sedentary days had clearly taken their toll. As I peeled my base layer off and melted under the stream of scalding shower water, I was out of breath and just shy of miserable, still achy, eyes throbbing and throat parched.

But the sun had come out to warm me back to the world of the living, the world of the normal. And when I flew home the next morning, I was happy I'd ventured out to say hello back.

Now, safe and sane back at home in Chicago, my balance has returned. The sun knew I didn't need it to welcome me back here; the grey skies and unexpected blasts of arctic air are homecoming gift enough. It is not 53 degrees. I find myself, in fact, preparing for the winter storm to end all winter storms.

This is the most formidable snow to hit the Windy City since 1967, to hear the meteorologists tell it — they must be wetting their pants with excitement.

My mother says she remembers that snowstorm. She was 11.

I'll believe the radar hype when I see it in its powdery flesh — we were expecting the storm of the century back in November and were left with little more than meteorological blue balls. There, I said it. Still, snow puns abounded on Twitter today: snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, Snow-prah Winfrey, Snow-torious B.I.G., Barry Mani-snow. I just made that last one up. (Snoowki? All right, it's a stretch.)

There's a citywide panic to collect as many eggs and loaves of bread as possible before the worst of the weather sets in. The parking lot of the grocery store was an accident waiting to happen, and it was every man for himself inside. I was willing to fight for the death for my broccoli and jumbo bag of jasmine rice; luckily for my fellow shoppers, it never came to that.

A friend and I settled in with two episodes of Gossip Girl and gorged ourselves on Thai food until we looked outside and saw the rooftops coated in white. She rushed home to the Ukrainian Village, and I rushed to the kitchen to put on a pot of pasta e fagioli soup. Which I didn't realize needed to simmer for two and a half hours.

So here I am. The gas flame glows blue under the pot, and I check it occasionally. I turned off the television — Alton Brown was making enchiladas — and put on Chet Baker, Fruit Bats, Mumford & Sons. I shuffle past Radiohead and Creedence Clearwater Revival. That's not winter music.

Despite the general population's frenzy to hunker down, I am calm. I'm warm at home and stocked with enough produce to feed a family of rabbits for days.

The city's lights have turned the sky orange; I opened my blinds to watch errant snowflakes drift by knotty, bare black branches. The street below me is pristine; not a single car has passed since the snow started to stick. But a train rumbles by every few minutes, a reminder that there's still life outside — not just a still life — though there are no passengers boarding. Empty. Empty. Empty.

This is the weather I've waited for all winter, the white Christmas I wanted but didn't get. I want to be the city the Weather Channel goes on and on about. I want a bright-blue ticker of school cancellations along the bottom of my television screen. I want pictures of bundled-up babies to clutter my Facebook feed. I want to see kids running amok through paths walled off by the newly plowed snow, and bewildered dogs in little snowshoes experiencing their first big winter adventure. I want to put my boots on and trudge through the heart-attack snow to grab the half-gallon of organic milk I forgot to pick up while I was out. I want to drag my forgotten yoga mat out of the coat closet and stretch out on my new, old wooden floors. I want to bask in the glory of my easy commute to the "home office," proud to be working while everyone else takes a snow day.

I'll enjoy Tom…Snow-kaw for about 30 minutes, then I'll change my mind and decide I'm ready for capri pants and baseball season, patent-leather flats and fireworks in Montrose Harbor. Even 53 degrees won't be enough for me, and I won't be sorry for it. Because I'm a Chicagoan, dammit.