Getting through winter

Author: Liana Hershey-Nexon

Democracy in action

Democracy in action

I voted today! I voted for Judge Rebecca Dallet for Wisconsin Supreme Court, I voted for some other people I hadn’t heard of until this evening when I studied a Candidates’ Answers newspaper insert from the League of Women Voters on the bus ride home […]

“Food” I’m eating and food I can’t eat right now

“Food” I’m eating and food I can’t eat right now

Tonight is the fourth night of the holiday of Passover. On Passover, most foods with wheat or other grains in them are off limits. My usual philosophy is “A meal without noodles is a wasted opportunity.” Passover is hard for me. Right now I’m eating […]

April writing challenge

April writing challenge

You’d think it’d be spring right now.

The spring equinox was on March 20th — a week and a half ago.

Two spring holidays took place today, Pesach and Easter. Flowers! Baby animals! Freedom! Life!

The heat lamps at the L station had signs under them saying they’d only be available until March 31st. Today, April 1st, was the day Chicagoans were supposed to step out from under the heat lamps into rays of springtime sunshine.

But of course nobody told the actual weather any of this. It was 30 degrees. We huddled under the L station heat lamps as though the calendar page had never turned.

I started writing this blog in order to help get myself (and anyone reading it) through the winter. It’s been a place I could write about my new wintery indoor hobby, crocheting, and it’s been an extra push to occasionally venture out into the cold, since going places besides work gave me more things to write about.

It appears that I need to keep writing this blog. Because even though it’s technically spring, it’s really still winter. Even if the weather does get into the forties, fifties, and sixties and stay there for an entire week, don’t trust it. You can’t start thinking it’s not winter until the day you look around and you’re in your bathing suit at the beach being dripped on by a popsicle you don’t remember buying.

I’m going to set myself a challenge to write something in here every day in April. The way I am going to try to accomplish this is to not let myself watch TV until I have posted. We’ll see how it goes. And then, at the end of April, maybe I’ll finally be able to look up and see one of those rays of springtime sunshine they keep telling me about.




I left the house again: WPR Politics Podcast

I left the house again: WPR Politics Podcast

Somehow, it’s still winter. And yet, despite the cold and the dark, I ventured outside once again. This time, I headed to a bar downtown for a live taping of the WPR Politics Podcast. The three podcast hosts sat at a table in the front […]

Made Something, I Did: Crochet Yoda

Made Something, I Did: Crochet Yoda

Yoda: he’s a powerful Jedi, a wise teacher, and more importantly, a tiny and adorable crochet project! On a hunt for interesting Yoda factoids to share with you all, I turned to well-named website and archive of all Star Wars knowledge, Wookieepedia. “Wookieepedia,” I asked it, […]

I left the house, and these are the results

I left the house, and these are the results

Winter is a very valid reason to go straight home after work and stay there. What are you going to do, park in a garage you’ll probably have to pay for, walk *outside* for potentially multiple blocks, breathe cold air, lose feeling in your fingers, and risk absorbing the evening’s premature darkness into your soul?  

But this week there were a few events that sounded so enticing, I risked it. Yes, that’s right. I left the house THREE DAYS IN A ROW. Did I make it to the end of the week with my fingers and soul intact? Keep reading to find out.  


Tuesday: Deaf activist and DWTS winner Nyle DiMarco lectures at UW

Nyle DiMarco wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after college. Then he was discovered by scouts from America’s Next Top Model through his Instagram account (take a look and you’ll see why). After winning ANTM, he went on to compete on and win Dancing With The Stars. Now he uses his celebrity status as a platform to improve education for deaf children, like working with the organization LEAD-K.   

Nyle’s presentation (which was given in ASL and interpreted into spoken English by an interpreter) taught me a lot about growing up deaf. His whole family is deaf, and he considered himself more privileged than other deaf people because he was fluent in Sign from the beginning; this set him up for success in school right away, compared to many other deaf children his age who couldn’t communicate fluently when they started school. It also helped him grow up proud of his identity as a deaf person because, coming from a deaf family, being deaf felt normal.

I got the impression from Nyle’s talk that being deaf in America, where the vast majority of people are hearing, can feel like being a foreign exchange student in a country where you can’t speak the language. His philosophy is to stay positive and “Embrace Yourself,” a phrase that he taught us how to sign at the end of his lecture.

One interesting fact I learned that I probably should have already known is that Washington D.C. has an all-deaf university called Gallaudet. I would like to learn more about deaf culture and education, so if you have any book or documentary recommendations on the subject, let me know!

At the end of the lecture there was a Q&A, and the audience members who asked questions mostly did so in ASL, which was cool to see. I also learned that there is a lot of controversy in the deaf community about topics such as cochlear implants. Nyle seemed to avoid directly answering controversial questions, which is my only critique of his lecture.

Actually, the real end of the event was “Selfies with Nyle” in the lounge outside the theater, but I left because I was tired and the line was RIDICULOUSLY LONG. Poor Nyle might still be there taking selfies with people to this very day.

Wednesday: Author Dara Horn talks “Eternal Life” at the library

If you haven’t heard of Dara Horn, go read The World To Come right now!

Okay, you’re back, so now you know that she writes entertaining and moving stories about Jewish characters at different periods in history.

Her newest book, Eternal Life, came out about a week and a half ago and tells the story of a woman named Rachel who was born in ancient Jerusalem but is still alive in the present day because she can’t die.

Dara Horn spoke with a lot of warmth, wisdom, and humor about her book. One message that I took away from her talk is that part of what makes us human and gives meaning to life is needing other people and taking care of other people; this is especially relevant for a main character who continues to have children over and over for thousands of years.

I was also shocked and delighted to learn that she has been best friends with the writer Elif Batuman since they were kids!

Thursday: We paint trees for Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the New Year of trees! They don’t like it when you light birthday candles or sparklers too close to them, though.

I ventured out yet again, this time to attend a young adult Tu B’Shvat Paint Night at the Jewish Federation of Madison building. It was led by Madison’s two Israeli shlichim (there’s not a great word in English for that — emissaries?), especially Shlomit, who is a talented artist and taught us how to paint the tree picture that we all worked on.

They also provided some traditional Tu B’Shvat wine, nuts, and fruits, as well as a soundtrack of Israeli songs that had to do with nature.

The night was definitely a success: I saw some friends, I ate a dried fig, I did NOT get paint all over my clothes, and I made this painting!

Friday: I pay the price


I know what you’re thinking: “You left the house during winter, not once, not twice, but three times in one week? You’re playing a dangerous game, lady.”

Well, you’re right. Friday morning I woke up late with a headache and a sore throat. At first I thought I was okay, but I only had to walk about three achy steps down my apartment building hallway with my coat on before I said “Nope” and turned back around. I stayed home sick and missed work.

Overall, was going outside this week worth it?

I’d say that based on how much I enjoyed the events I went to….yes. But this is also because I was only very mildly sick and was able to get over it by Saturday night. If there’s an event that sounds interesting enough taking place before the end of March, there is still a greater than zero chance that I will consider the possibility of maybe leaving the house for it! Just maybe not three days in a row.

I made something: crochet Stormtrooper

I made something: crochet Stormtrooper

Back in the pre-winter days when I occasionally left the house, I was walking through the craft store and I saw this:   A “Star Wars Crochet” kit!   Even though I had seen fewer than half of the Star Wars movies and didn’t even […]